A worldwide federation that campaigns for the rights of gender, sexual and romantic minorities have shot down in flames circulating claims that implied the entity was advocating to lower or eliminate the age of consent.
In a statement published on their website, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA World) – a federacy of more than 1,600 organisations from over 150 countries and territories – said it was “appalled” by the insinuations.
“ILGA World is appalled that false stories are circulating attempting to imply that ILGA World is advocating to lower or eliminate the age of consent. ILGA World categorically, and in no uncertain terms, does not advocate to eliminate or lower the general age of consent, nor supports paedophilia in any way, shape or form – and never has,” the association added. “Our position on this is clear and a matter of public record. These spurious claims, as old as homophobia itself, are dangerous and irresponsible, and we urge those making or sharing them, to stop,” the communique reads.
The federation’s averment came only a few days after a Scott official Margaret Lynch, accused two Scottish LGBT groups of campaigning to have the age of sexual consent reduced to 10 years old.
Reports are that Lynch told her Alba Party’s women’s conference that LGBT Youth Scotland and Stonewall Scotland had received more than £1 million of funding from the Scottish Government. She reportedly claimed the groups’ “next move is to reduce the age of consent to 10 years old”.
When asked about their candidate’s speech, an Alba spokesperson said it was not for them to “defend concerns that women have raised based on fact”.
In fact, the spox cited a “Feminist Declaration” released in March 2020 by more than 200 international human rights organisations. The declaration aimed to “address the gaps” in the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and advocate “for accountability in policy and programs meant to promote, protect, and fulfil human rights for all”.
Paragraph 14a of the declaration reads: “Eliminate all laws and policies that punish or criminalize same-sex intimacy, gender affirmation, abortion, HIV transmission non-disclosure and exposure, or that limit the exercise of bodily autonomy, including laws limiting legal capacity of adolescents, people with disabilities or other groups to provide consent to sex or sexual and reproductive health services or laws authorizing non-consensual abortion, sterilization, or contraceptive use.”
And paragraph 14g: “End the criminalization and stigmatization of adolescents’ sexuality, and ensure and promote a positive approach to young people’s and adolescents’ sexuality that enables, recognizes, and respects their agency to make informed and independent decisions on matters concerning their bodily autonomy, pleasure and fundamental freedoms.”
Criticism of the above passages has focused on the term “adolescent”, which has been taken to mean anyone between the ages of 10 and 19, according to the World Health Organisation’s definition.
The Alba Party quoted the above paragraphs as evidence that groups under ILGA World’s umbrella (Equality Network, Stonewall Scotland, and LGBT Youth Scotland) were “currently campaigning” to reduce the age of consent to 10.
Meanwhile, Stonewall Scotland, International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC), ILGA World and other groups have denied the accusations, saying they are “dangerous”, “irresponsible”, and “categorically untrue”. They say Lynch’s claims are based on an “obtuse interpretation” of their stated goals.
ILGA World called for the “strengthening of the rights of children and young people, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” and said it condemn all forms of abuse (including sexual abuse), coercion, and exploitation of children and young people.
“As regards our member organisations, we take strict measures to ensure that they abide by our values, and they are thoroughly screened during the application process. Any complaints or information received about members advocating or promoting paedophilia, are dealt with, and if founded will result in their expulsion from ILGA World,” said ILGA World.
Stonewall Scotland issued a statement on Twitter saying the Alba candidates claims were “categorically untrue”.
Later, Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, and Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland and Northern Ireland, added: “We are appalled by the baseless and offensive accusations made by Alba parliamentary candidate Margaret Lynch.
“What she said was not only untrue, but it was also a wilful, bad faith interpretation made for the sole purpose of trying to smear LGBT+ organisations.”
They accuse Lynch of “repeating deeply harmful myths about LGBT+ people as paedophiles and sexual predators” and call on her to issue a full apology and retract her previous statement.
As well, LGBT Youth Scotland chief executive Dr Mhairi Crawford called Lynch’s claims “vicious lies” and said they are “a wilful misinterpretation and bad faith reading of the [feminist declaration] that serves only to attack the LGBT community”.
ILGA World members are based in six regions namely Pan Africa ILGA, ILGA Asia, ILGA-Europe, ILGALAC (Latin America and the Caribbean), ILGA North America and ILGA Oceania.