quinta-feira, maio 12, 2005

Age of Consent

Recently, the Portuguese Constitutional Court stroke down article 175 of the Penal Code, which punished homosexual acts with adolescents between 16 and 18 years of age with imprisonment.

The Court, whose powers include judicial review of the constitutionality of laws, has deemed the article unconstitutional because it violates the principle of equality. This opinion is certainly not unrelated to the fact that the Constitution has been amended recently to include sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination.

This is surprising because Portugal does not have a tradition of legislative innovation through judicial decisions.

The age of consent is thus now the same regardless of the sex of the participants.

If this legislative reform had come from Parliament it would have shown that MPs have, at least, a notion of coherence, since they were the ones who revised the Constitution but pusillanismously failed to propagate the changes to the rest of the legal order. This way MPs have averted any sort of public scrutiny but have also shown an unwillingness to do what they were elected for.

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