25th March 2010

Guernsey votes for equal age of consent

When asked to vote on equalising the age of consent for gay men, Guernsey’s politicians were unanimous. They dropped it from 18 to 16 on 25 March 2010, bringing Guernsey in line with the rest of the UK. At last, the rules were the same for same-sex for mixed-sex partners.

Male couple

Long-running issue

It wasn’t the first time they’d been asked to vote on the issue. It had been brought up in 1999 by Deputy Carol Steere when the existing age of consent for homosexual acts had been 21. She had proposed reducing it to 16. However, dropping it five years in one go was seemingly too much for the States at that time. Deputies had instead voted to cut it to 18. British MPs had voted to lower it to 16 in the UK just a few days earlier.

Deputies had been warned after the 1999 vote that not bringing it into line with the age of consent for mixed-gender couples could leave the States in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Another vote on the issue had been tabled in 2007, when Jersey had already equalised its age of consent. However, other business had got in the way and, in the end, there had been no time to hold it. It was therefore 11 years until the issue was properly revisited in 2010. This time, it was the Home Department that had proposed the change.

Plenty of notice

The press and broadcast media started to publicise the upcoming vote at the start of the month. The BBC reported on the reactions from various church leaders, which ranged from full acceptance from the leader of the Methodist Church (“It’s important that people are treated the same regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or racial background”) to disapproval from the Catholic dean who said he “doesn’t go along with it”. The Anglican dean had declined to comment until after the vote.

Both Alderney and Sark soon followed Guernsey’s lead. At the same time as equalising the age of consent, Guernsey’s Deputies lifted the restriction on the number of men who could have sex together.


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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st