SEX LAW 'NOT FAIR ON BOYS' Teenager Fights 'Under-Age Bias'

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Byline: AODHAN O'FAOLAIN

A TEENAGE boy mounted a challenge against Ireland's "Shakespearean" laws on under-age sex at the High Court yesterday.

The 18-year-old faces five years in jail for allegedly having sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was just 15.

He claims his life could be destroyed because of a "Romeo and Juliet provision" in a 2006 Act that means he can be prosecuted for having sex with a minor while the girl is given immunity.

Lawyers for the youth - who was charged with unlawful carnal knowledge and carrying out a sex act in August 2006 - described the current legislation being used to prosecute their client as "crude and old-fashioned" gender-based discrimination.

They claim the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Act has a "patronising view" that girls must be protected from boys who are the guilty parties. The trial against the boy has been postponed until the application against Ireland, the Attorney General and the DPP is dealt with. Gerard Hogan SC, for the boy, blasted under-age sex laws.

He said: "This is not the age of Shakespeare but 400 years on, society was still faced with this nakedly gender-based legislation." The state takes the view that girls cannot be charged for having sex before they turn 17 because the penalty for them is pregnancy. …