Sex in the garden ban dropped

by JO BUTLER, Daily Mail

A new law that banned sex in the back garden has been ripped up by embarrassed ministers.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has abandoned plans to dictate where consenting adults can and cannot have sex after being accused of "nannying".

The law would have outlawed sex in a garden which was visible from a public place.

Lovers would also have broken the law if they had sex in the back of a car. Ironically, there would have been no legal restrictions for a private room with no curtains.

The crimes would have been punishable by up to six months in jail and were to be introduced in a radical overhaul of sex laws. But they proved unpopular.

As opposition grew, Home Office minister Hilary Benn admitted the proposed law could pave the way to legalising sex in a public toilet - but only if the cubicle door was closed.

Police Federation chief Jan Berry warned MPs it would be harder to prosecute incidents of so-called "cottaging", when gay men meet for sex in public toilets.

Now in a massive climbdown - welcomed yesterday by Mrs Berry - the Government has scrapped the new legislation altogether.

Instead, it will rely on existing laws which ban behaviour likely to cause alarm, harassment or distress and a law against outraging public decency, which carries a maximum sentence of life in jail.

Mr Benn said: "The aim has always been to ensure that people are protected from being unwilling witnesses to overtly sexual behaviour that most people consider should take place in private, while recognising that it is not the role or intention of Government to intervene in the personal, private relationships of consenting adults."

The new Sexual Offences Bill will sweep away a raft of laws which specifically affect gay sex, including crimes of gross indecency, buggery and soliciting by men.

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