age of consent

age of consent
   The age of consent has been discussed from Plato, through Locke and into contemporary public policy. It covers a variety of different situations, from smoking, taking alcohol and watching X-rated movies to legal permission to engage in various forms of sexual intercourse. In Britain, the age of consent for smoking is sixteen years, and for taking alcohol is eighteen years. Ages of criminal responsibility vary widely according to the offence and are currently under review. Similarly, ages of civil contractual ability vary, but are generally set at sixteen or eighteen years. Until 1994, the age of consent between gay men was twenty-one years of age, after which it was lowered to eighteen. Between heterosexuals, the age of consent is sixteen years.
   This anomaly was challenged at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In 1997, the incoming Labour government dropped the UK defence and sought an out of court settlement in which it would offer a free vote on the issue in the House of Commons. Subject to Parliamentary time, it is almost certain that the age of consent for same-sex relations will be reduced to sixteen (approved by the Commons vote in June 1998). At the same time, the government expressed a determination to increase the age of consent to smoking to eighteen. The apparent anomaly is explained by reducing gender inequality on the one hand and discouraging smoking, regardless of gender, on the other.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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  • age of consent — age of consent: the age at which a person is deemed competent by law to give consent esp. to sexual intercourse or marriage see also statutory rape compare emancipation, legal age Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster …   Law dictionary

  • Age of consent — Consent Con*sent , n. [Cf. OF. consent.] 1. Agreement in opinion or sentiment; the being of one mind; accord. [1913 Webster] All with one consent began to make excuse. Luke xiv. 18. [1913 Webster] They fell together all, as by consent. Shak.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • age of consent — n. Law 1. the age at which a person may marry without parental approval 2. the age at which a person is considered legally competent to consent to sexual intercourse …   English World dictionary

  • age of consent — age′ of consent′ n. law Law. the age at which a person is considered competent to consent to marriage or sexual intercourse • Etymology: 1800–10 …   From formal English to slang

  • age of consent — ► NOUN ▪ the age at which a person s consent to sexual intercourse is legally valid …   English terms dictionary

  • age of consent — age of con sent n the age of consent the age when someone can legally get married or have a sexual relationship …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Age of consent — For other uses, see Age of consent (disambiguation). Sex and the law Social issues Age of consent · Antisexualis …   Wikipedia

  • age of consent — noun the minimum age for marrying without parental consent or the minimum age for consensual sexual relations; intercourse at an earlier age can result in a charge of assault or statutory rape; the age differs in different states of the Union •… …   Useful english dictionary

  • age of consent — N SING: the N The age of consent is the age at which a person can legally agree to having a sexual relationship. He was under the age of consent …   English dictionary

  • Age of consent (disambiguation) — Age of consent may refer to the legal concepts of: *Age of consent for sexual activity *Age of consent reform *Marriageable ageIt may also refer to: * Age of Consent (film), a 1969 UK film directed by Michael Powell * Age of Consent (1932 film) * …   Wikipedia

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