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Labour MPs gave all-clear on sex law changes

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesman

25 May 2004

Labour MPs gave all-clear on sex law changes

It appears no one in Cabinet or Labour's Caucus raised concerns about law changes on consensual sex between 12 to 16-year-olds, says National MP Tony Ryall.

The Government's proposed Crimes Amendment (No 2) Bill would have decriminalised some sexual conduct between 12 to 16-year-olds. Due to public outrage the Government has since backed down on this provision.

Mr Ryall says Justice Minister Mr Goff's answers in Parliament today appear to indicate no one in Labour raised any concerns over these alarming changes.

"That speaks volumes about the out-of-touch social engineering the Government has been pushing. It's time they realised the tide has turned.

"Mr Goff also surprisingly refused to drop a second clause, one which provides a new defence for older men to have consenting sex with young people aged 12 to 16 provided they took 'reasonable steps' to ascertain their age and believed the young person to be 16 or older. "In the current law only those under 21 years of age can use a less restrictive version of this defence. For men aged 21 and over there is no defence provision.

"The law should be clear. Sex under 16 is wrong. "It shouldn't take public concern for the Government to drop this second clause. If it is passed it will cause confusion and problems in the future, long after Mr Goff has left the Justice Ministry. "The law is not only about enforcement. The law also gives moral guidance and support for parents and grandparents who want to protect their young people from early sexual conduct," says Mr Ryall.


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