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Denying equality: An analysis of arguments against lowering the age of consent for sex between men

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Publication details

JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
DatePublished - 2002
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)167-180
Original languageEnglish


This paper takes a human rights approach to lesbian and gay oppression and critically explores the arguments used to oppose equality in debates about the age of consent for sex between men. A thematic analysis of Hansard and newspaper reports produced in Britain during the 1990s showed that opponents of a proposal to equalize the age of consent countered with three key arguments: (1) principles of right and wrong take precedence over equality; (2) principles of democracy take precedence over equality; (3) principles of care and protection take precedence over equality. Two additional arguments (concerning the health risks of anal intercourse and escalating demands for gay rights) are also outlined. Our findings are discussed with reference to debates on other lesbian and gay rights issues and we consider the ways in which these arguments might best be resisted. Copyright (C) 2002 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.

    Research areas

  • age of consent, equality, gay men, human rights, rhetoric, RIGHTS, GAY, DISCOURSE, WOMEN

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