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Activist Groups in the UK in the 1970s

The Age of Consent March 1971

An ‘Age of Consent’ protest in London was organized on 28 August 1971 by members of the ‘under 21s’ group in the Gay Liberation Front.

Black and white photo of Age of Consent demonstration at Trafalgar Square, 1971
Age of Consent Demonstration 1971

This demonstration was about the inequality in the age of consent for sexual acts between homosexual men and heterosexual couples. Both CHE and the GLF set up young peoples’ groups and campaigned on lowering the Age of Consent from 21 to 16 years for gay men so it was the same as for heterosexual couples.

Front cover of Pride issue of Gay Youth magazine
Gay Youth Magazine

The London Gay Teenage Group left CHE in 1976 and established itself as an independent youth group run by young people. It became the first funded and officially registered gay youth group in 1979.

In 1994 the age of consent for gay men was lowered from 21 to 18 in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act. In 2000 the age of consent for sex became the same at 16 years old for gay men as heterosexual men and women in Scotland, England and Wales. It did not become equal in Northern Ireland until 2008.