Kevin Myers: This 'Romeo and Juliet' law is in fact a blackmailer's charter for a girl who chooses to serially seduce boys and serially complain
The Supreme Court last week upheld the constitutionality of the 2006 Sexual Offences Act, by which a 16-year-old can be imprisoned for having sex, but not the girl. Now firstly, you don't pick fights with the Supreme Court.
No, you should slap your forehead at the jurisprudential and luminescent genius, declare that it has set a new high in intellectual acuity that could only ever be matched by whatever cerebral distillate next emanates from their co-cranial deliberations, and move onto other business. The Supreme Court has ruled, and that is that.
Of course, judges do not make laws, but merely interpret them. Their personal opinions are shed when their wigs are donned. Moreover, as Chief Justice Denham observed: Decisions on matters of such social sensitivity were a matter for the legislature, to which courts should defer. Nonetheless, what a truly wonderful world we have made, wherein a virginal 16-year-old boy can be seduced by a sexually experienced 16-year-old girl, yet only he can be found guilty of a criminal offence and imprisoned. This so-called 'Romeo and Juliet' law is in fact Delilah's Law, and a blackmailer's charter for any girl who chooses to serially seduce boys and serially complain.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the danger of pregnancy for teenage girls was an objective which lawmakers were entitled to take into account. The Oireachtas was entitled to consider this issue in the context of "differences of capacity, physical and moral and social function" as provided for in article 40.1 of the Constitution which holds citizens equal before the law.
While strict equality is the norm laid down by article 40.1, it also recognises that perfectly equal treatment is not always achievable, the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said.
Article 40.1 recognises that applying the same treatment to all is not always desirable because it could lead to indirect inequality because of different circumstances in which people find themselves, she said. Some of the differences between people, particularly in relation to capacity, are inherent and most obviously between sexes.
Laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of pregnancy have justifiably been applied to women and it follows that laws such as in this case were not examples of the State holding men or women unequal before the law, she said.
But this logic can surely be inverted. If it is right to say the possibility of pregnancy is why a girl should not be guilty of a sexual offence, is it not also using the same logic to say that that same possibility should rule her out of those professions where pregnancy and its aftermath are an impediment, such as radiology, soldiering, or flying? It is an insult to common sense to maintain that pregnancy can serve only as a get-out-of jail card, and that there can be no adverse legal or occupational consequences to it. Quite simply, there is no human or legal condition that confers only advantages but has no disadvantages: except of course in this brave new feminist world, where beneficial consequences must always accrue to women, regardless of circumstance.
If teenage pregnancy is so undesirable, as stated in the ruling, why does the State then reward teenage mothers with such uniquely lavish benefits? And why is sexual activity that does not cause pregnancy liable to legal penalty, namely oral and anal sex? I am told that oral sex is very commonplace amongst teenagers (though -- tragically -- not in my day). Why is it even a matter of criminality amongst consenting 16-year-olds? Sodomy is slightly different, in the sense that there could be accidental transmission of semen, though little fear of it with a condom. Why is that as legally punishable as unprotected vaginal sex? And why is a girl who is on the pill adjudged to be as liable to pregnancy as a girl who is not, and the boy who has very careful vaginal sexual intercourse with the former to be adjudged to be as criminal as the boy who has carefree baby-making sex with the latter?
There are many disgusting, vile things about the Act, not least the underlying hypocrisy. Unless the TDs who passed it are very different from the rest of the population -- though when you think about it, they probably are -- many of them will have lost their virginities before what is now the age of consent. Certainly, the majority of boys and girls today are sexually active to some degree or other by their mid-teens. To have created a legal apartheid in which boys must submit to the pelvic equivalent of pass-laws while girls can swan around having sex with whomever they want without consequence is deeply morally repugnant. However, it does at least satisfy one obvious appetite that is apparently deep within the feminist agenda; the endless need to punish men. It is apparently irrelevant that these "men" are by definition hopelessly immature and vulnerable boys, who have just been hit by an express-train of libido, which might well be more powerful than a boy's instincts for prudence. So here's your cue, girls: find a boy, seduce him, then imprison and ruin him. Result!