In March 1976, the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) called for an equal age of consent of 14 or 10 in Britain.  The reference to the Criminal Law Review Panel resulted in extensive media coverage. While acknowledging the benefits of abolishing the age of consent, the report proposes maintaining the prohibition on sexual relations before the age of 14 “as a compromise with public attitudes,” stating that “while it is both logical and consistent with modern knowledge of child development to propose that the age of consent be abolished, We are concerned that, given the current public attitude towards this issue, it will not be politically feasible to abolish the age of consent.  They also argued that “voluntary childhood sexual experiences with an adult do not cause discernible harm” and suggested that more harm was caused when children recounted their experiences in court or in the press. The filing was signed by Harriet Harman, who was legal secretary of the NCCL at the time before becoming an MP in 1982.  Harman denied ever supporting lowering the age of consent to 10, saying the right-wing Daily Mail and The Telegraph newspapers had attempted to make them “guilty by associating” with fringe groups previously linked to the NCCL.  Many initiatives have been taken to raise and lower the age of consent. Gratian, a canonical lawyer in the 12th century, explained that women and men could not accept betrothal until the age of 7, and consent to marriage (sexual intercourse) could not be given until the age of 12 for women and 14 for men. At that time, the age of consent to marriage (sexual intercourse) in most European countries was about 12 years for women and about 14 years for men. Today, the age of consent to sexual intercourse in Western countries is generally between 14 and 18 years. In 1994, Conservative MP Edwina Currie introduced an amendment to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts from 21 to 16, similar to that for heterosexual acts. When the amendment was tabled on 21 February 1994, Ms Currie stated: “This is the first time in more than a quarter century that the age of consent for homosexuals has been debated in the House of Commons.
The taboo of silence that denied the sexuality of young gay men has been decisively broken. During the debate, Tony Blair, then Shadow Home Secretary, said: “A society that has learned over time to achieve racial and gender equality can certainly accept sexual equality. That is the moral reason for a change tonight. However, Currie`s amendment was defeated and the age of consent for gay men was lowered to 18. The compromise did little to appease the thousands of angry gay rights protesters who had gathered outside parliament. But, as Edwina Currie pointed out in retrospect, “the atmosphere had changed forever.” 1 Human rights activist Peter Tatchell recently called on the Huffington Post for a reconsideration of the issue of consent, arguing that “the existing consent to Bill 16 was introduced more than 100 years ago in a Puritan Victorian era. Since then, society has moved towards more informed and informed attitudes towards gender. More importantly, the average age of puberty and sexual arousal dropped dramatically to about ten to 11 years. In the light of new evidence, this issue should be re-examined and re-examined. Amid the bitter exchange, opponents of the amendment insisted they were not anti-gay, but wanted to protect children. Although he does not advocate complete abolition, Francis Bennion, a British liberal humanist who was also influenced by the historical context of the issue, pointed to the fact that children are “sexual beings” and concluded that this in itself made legal prohibitions unjust.  The history of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 cannot tell us what the age of consent should be.
However, it shows us that the meaning and purpose of sexual consent law changes over time and that direct comparisons with the past must be made with caution. Policymakers who claim that the age of consent does not need to be re-examined because of its roots in “child protection” overlook the fact that the 1885 law was shaped in part by a desire to control young people. It is also all too easy to argue for raising or lowering the age of consent based on individual factors such as the age of puberty or expected sexual activity. Direct comparisons to a 130-year-old society and a 130-year-old legal system – whether reform is encouraged or opposed – are misplaced, as is the idea that a law rooted in Victorian concerns and values can respond appropriately to those of our own society. Ideas about age, gender and sexuality change with society, and decision-makers need to recognize these differences in order to move forward. According to a British study by the Centre for Family and Household Research, “an increasing proportion of young people under the age of consent are sexually active”.  In addition, the UK`s first National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL), which collected data up to 1990, found that a high proportion of young people engage in other legally prohibited forms of sexual activity, including mutual masturbation and oral sex, from the average age of 14.  Some called for the age of consent to be abolished so that children and adults can have relationships.   Previous groups that have advocated this include NAMBLA in the United States and Vereniging Martijn in the Netherlands. In 1855, legislation was passed to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16. In 2013, Prime Minister David Cameron rejected calls to lower the age of sexual consent without public debate, saying the age of 16 had been introduced to protect children. The focus on protection has long been common among those who want to maintain or raise the age of sexual consent.
Those who have called for lowering the age of sexual consent have instead focused on lowering the age of puberty, or the “real” age at which girls and boys engage in seemingly consensual sexual acts with their peers. Although these different perspectives are often pitted against each other, they are not mutually exclusive. Instead, they are rooted in different interpretations of sexual consent law and its purpose. So what has always been the perceived purpose of the age of female consent? Over time, the perceived purpose of sexual consent legislation has changed. These changes and differences between the past and present meaning of “sexual consent” must be recognized in any discussion of legislative changes. Policymakers will not be able to move forward if they do not stop making direct comparisons with the 1885 Act without recognizing its fundamentally different purpose. Currently, the age of consent for penetrative sex, oral sex and mutual masturbation in the UK is 16. If a person has sexual intercourse with a person under that age, they can be charged with a felony and can be sentenced to 14 years in prison or, if under 18, 5 years` imprisonment.
 Similarly, the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 prohibits a person in a position of trust from engaging in sexual acts with any person who cannot consent, including minors and “very vulnerable persons.”  It is primarily used to protect individuals who are over the age of consent but under the age of 18 or have a mental disability.   In the United States, many states have introduced age-related exceptions.