3 July 2008
Responding to the news that, as part of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, the age of consent will be lowered to the age of 16 in Northern Ireland by 2009 Audrey Simpson, Director, fpa in Northern Ireland said:
“We welcome this legislation as it finally addressed the inequalities experienced by young people in Northern Ireland. By decriminalising the sexual behaviour of 16 year olds, Northern Ireland brings the law on the age of consent in line with the rights of other young people in the rest of the UK.
“But we still have concerns about proposed mandatory reporting of sexual activity of under 14 year olds. We believe that such guidance could be in breach of the European Convention on the Rights of the Child and gives inadequate attention to the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995.
“To deny the right to confidentiality could lead to young people not accessing sexual health services and consequently a potential increase in unplanned pregnancy and STIs. Importantly, by not accessing such services young people will not receive professional advice and support about their sexual lifestyles at a crucial time in their lives.
“Now that Northern Ireland has been brought into line with the rest of the UK it is also high time that a further area of discrimination is tackled, namely women’s rights to abortion services. Women in Northern Ireland still don't have the same rights as women in the rest of the UK.”
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For further information please contact Audrey Simpson on 07909 972 678.
Or contact fpa's press office on 020 7608 5265/5264. Mobile 07958 921060.
fpa (Family Planning Association) is the only registered charity working to improve the sexual health and reproductive rights of all people throughout the UK.