29 JANUARY 2003
The Sexual Offences Reform Bill published by the government today
doesn’t go far enough and still leaves the human rights of
some adults infringed as far as their sex lives are concerned.
So says Derek Cohen, secretary of The Spanner Trust which has been
working to overturn court rulings made over the past twelve years.
These decisions meant that consenting adults who caused non serious
injuries during their sexual activity could and in some cases were
sent to prison.
In December 1990 sixteen men were convicted for causing marks, bruises,
cuts and other non-serious injuries in the course of sexual activity
with other consenting adults. Some were sent to prison. The police
investigation leading to their arrest was known as “Operation
Since then a number of court cases have caused greater confusion
with defendants being convicted or acquitted seemingly at random.
And one judge, using a couple’s married status as the reason
for his acquittal, exposed the way the courts discriminate against
people based on their sexuality.
The Spanner Trust has taken advice from leading human rights lawyers
Ben Emmerson QC and Rabinder Singh QC of Matrix Chambers. Their
opinion is that the uncertainty in the law as it applies to injuries
inflicted during adult consensual sexual activity contravenes Article
8 of the Convention on Human Rights. [VIEW]
“The Spanner Trust warned the government that the current
law contravenes the human rights of consenting adults who engage
in sexual activities which cause non-serious injury,” said
Cohen. “But they have chosen not to redress this injustice.
It’s a pity because aside from this the Sexual Offences Bill
is extremely comprehensive, covering nearly every other aspect of
Cohen said that if the bill was passed without a suitable amendment
the Spanner Trust would make a free standing application in the
High Court forcing the government to change the law anyway.
Derek Cohen, secretary, The Spanner Trust, 07970 988425
John Lovatt, legal officer, The Spanner Trust 020 7247 9336