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Update on consultation on the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 5 September 2005

    THE public is reminded that consultation closes at the end of this month, Friday September 30th 2005, on a draft Bill to update and strengthen the Island’s sexual offences laws.

    The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill creates two new criminal offences to protect youngsters from sexual predators. It also equalises the ages of consent for heterosexual and homosexual sex in line with the Island’s international legal obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

    Although there has been limited response to the consultation so far, one change to the Bill that has been suggested is that the repeal of Section 38 of the Sexual Offences Act 1992 be included. Section 38 prohibits the promotion of homosexuality by public bodies and is similar to the ‘Section 28’ measure repealed in England in 2003.

    John Shimmin MHK, the member of the Council of Ministers in charge of the Bill, said:
    ‘Repeal of Section 38 is not part of the draft Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill and the Council of Ministers has yet to make a policy decision on the issue. Before that happens it seems reasonable to sound out public opinion on the matter as part of the consultation on the Bill.’
    Mr Shimmin added:
    ‘While the Isle of Man Government is obliged under the European Convention on Human Rights to equalise the ages of consent, there is no such obligation in international law to repeal Section 38.’

    An information paper containing the draft Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill is available from the Chief Secretary’s Office website: www.gov.im/cso. Papers copies can be obtained from the Chief Secretary’s Office, 3rd Floor, Government Office, Bucks Road, Douglas.

    Comments on the legislation should be submitted in writing to the Chief Secretary’s Office, 3rd Floor, Government Office, Buck’s Road, Douglas, IM1 3PG or by email to enquiries.cso@gov.im

    5th September 2005

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