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Bishop dismayed as gay age of consent bill passes

Last night's passing of the gay age of consent bill by the NSW Parliament represents the "opening of a real Pandora's box", according to Bishop Michael Malone of Maitland-Newcastle.

The right of gay men to legally have sex at 16 will now be enshrined in law, after a Government bill passed the NSW Upper House last night. Labor and Liberal MPs were allowed a conscience vote on the issue, with the bill passing 23 to 16.

"Children of 16 do not have the maturity to be fully responsible for their actions in regard to sexuality," he said. "To reduce the age of consent to 16 is to reduce the sense of responsibility that goes along with it."

"At 16 it is too easy for children to be manipulated into sexual acts against their will," said Bishops Malone in an interview for this Sunday's Catholic Weekly conducted before the passing of the Bill.

Sydney's Archbishop George Pell recently described the move to lower the age of consent for homosexual activity as 'regrettable'.

"Parliament should not enshrine the ideological claim that homosexual and heterosexual activity are morally equivalent," he said.

The passing of the bill will lower the age of consent for gay men to bring it into line with heterosexuals. It will also bring NSW into line with other states in Australia.

ABC/Catholic Weekly

NSW Legislative Council Hansard, Full Day Transcript for 27 May 2003
Consent bill passes Upper House (

28 May 2003