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Gays hail MPs' vote to reduce age of consent

GAY rights campaigners in Britain celebrated last night after the Commons voted overwhelmingly to lower the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16 the same as heterosexuals.

In a free poll, MPs voted 336 to 129, a majority of 207, in favour of an amendment which will bring the British age of consent for homosexuals into line with that of the rest of the EU, bar Austria.

However, their decision now looks set to be challenged in the Lords where a number of bishops and Tory peers oppose the change.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, warned MPs that to lower the gay age of consent would send out ``the wrong messages'' a caution echoed by Cardinal Basil Hume, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

But MPs rejected a separate amendment aimed at protecting youngsters from predatory adults by setting the age of consent at 18 for both heterosexuals and gays where one party was in a position of ``authority, influence or trust''.

The historic amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill was proposed by Labour's Ann Keen, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, whose son Mark Lloyd Fox is gay.

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