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Youth
 
EGALE Prepares for Possible Age of Consent Change
Input sought on what position, if any, to take
ONLINE:  WEDNESDAY MARCH 15, 4:13 PM EST (GMT-5).

Justice THE Canadian national rights / lobby group Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE) is seeking input on what position it should take, if any, on the possible proposal to increase the age of consent for sex in Canada.

EGALE's traditional position has been one that is based on equality:  the age of consent should not be different for gays and lesbians than it is for straight people.  However, with the request for consultations made by the federal Ministry of Justice, EGALE is considering whether it should take a stance.

"Raising the age of consent has only recently been discussed by the feds.  Historically, EGALE's only position was that sex between men or between women be treated equally with that between people of the opposite sex.  We seek your feedback in determining what position, if any, EGALE should take on raising the age of consent," said Executive Director John Fisher in a statement.

The age of consent in Canada is currently 14 years, except when the nature of the relationship is one of trust or dependency, in which case it is 18 years.  The Ministry of Justice reports that concerns by law enforcement and members of the judicial system have led it to consider raising the lower age due to the relatively large difference between the two apparently causing difficulties in dealing with offenses involving the higher one.

The possible proposal to raise the lower age is part of a larger reform effort regarding laws that concern and protect children.

The Ministry has requested input from all Canadians with an interest in this by March 31st.

EGALE, for its part, is asking that people complete the online questionnaire on its website, not as a means of performing valid measurement, but as "a means to gather a variety of community opinions to help inform the Board's deliberations on the subject."  Mr. Fisher stated that Board members have had discussions with youth groups on the topic in recent weeks.

EGALE's website may be viewed at www.egale.ca.  Further information on this may be obtained from the federal Ministry of Justice at www.canada.justice.gc.ca/en/cons/child/index.html.