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Age of consent law in Canada refers to cultural and legal discussions in Canada regarding the age of consentwhich was raised in May as part of the Tackling Violent Crime Act. In Maythe Canadian government passed a bill to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16, while creating a close-in-age exemption for sex between 14—15 year olds and partners less than 5 years older, and keeping an existing close-in-age clause for sex between 12—13 year olds and partners less than 2 years older.
Section of the Criminal Code set the age of consent for anal intercourse at 18 for non-married couples. In JuneC passed both houses of the Parliament of Canada and received royal assentrepealing section and making the age of consent equal at 16 for all types of intercourse. Inthe age of consent was raised from 12 to Former Toronto police officer Paul Gillespie said the bill would give police "more tools" in the battle against Internet predators.
One of the motivators for the reform of these laws in Canada was the case of Dale Eric Beckham. In MarchBeckham, then 31 years old, travelled from his home in Woodlands, Texas to OttawaOntario to meet with a year-old boy he had met over the internet.
The boy's parents, after observing him sneaking away in the middle of the night into a taxi, alerted the police who tracked the cab to a downtown hotel. Police found Beckham and the boy unclothed in a hotel room, where they were engaged in sexual activity; it was later determined that the two had also engaged in sexual intercourse the night. Police also discovered hundreds of pornographic images of children on a laptop computer that Beckham had brought with him from Texas. Beckham was arrested and held without bail. In Beckham's home state of Texasthe age of consent is 17 and violators can face prison terms of up to 10—20 years.
In Canada, sexual activity with children as young as 16 is legal was 14 until and prior to May as long as it was consensual and the adult is not in a position of authority or dependency. The boy, who reportedly suffered from social anxiety disorder and had shown s of being suicidal, insisted during interviews with the police that the sex with Beckham was consensual.
Consequently, the only crime Beckham could be prosecuted for in Canada was a relatively minor offense of possession of child pornography. In NovemberBeckham pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the time already served. He was then ordered deported back to the United States. After being notified of his arrest in Canada, Immigration and Customs Enforcement ICE agents searched Beckham's home in Woodlands, Texas where they discovered a massive quantity of child pornography on his computer, with some depicting children less than 12 years old engaged in sexual acts with adults.
After returning to the United States, Beckham was immediately arrested and held without bond.
In JulyBeckham pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transporting child pornography to Canada,   although his lawyer argued unsuccessfully that Beckham's behaviour was the result of diminished capacity. In NovemberBeckham was sentenced to 17 years in prison, to be followed by lifetime supervision. This case raised concerns that child molesters, not just in Canada but also from abroad, were taking advantage of Canada's low age of consent to sexually exploit vulnerable children while escaping criminal prosecution. LGBT rights activists also criticized the bill, because it did not address the issue of equality and maintained the then-current Canadian age of consent for anal sex outside of marriage at Hillary Cook, a spokeswoman for gay rights group Egale Canadastated the bill was "an attempt to score partisan points".
The Canadian AIDS Society stated that "increasing the age of consent could result in young people being more secretive about their sexual practices and not seeking out the information they need. This will place youth at an increased risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. The Canadian Children's Rights Council referenced an article in The Globe and Mailwhich highlighted the opinions of Martha Mackinnon executive director of Justice for Children and Youth who had expressed concern this would decrease the pursuit of condoms.
The proposal received criticism from different organizations and individuals. Andrea Cohen of the pro-choice Canadian Federation for Sexual Health formerly International Planned Parenthood Federation said the organization believed the legislation did nothing to keep youth from harm. She talked on CTV News Channel 's " Mike Duffy Live" where she stated: "What it will do is infringe upon the rights of youth in terms of their ability to make decisions on their own sexuality". Peter Duddingexecutive director of the Child Welfare League of Canadacriticized the bill's effect of removing judicial discretion in cases involving and year-olds: "When we deal with arbitrary cut-offs, we lose the flexibility to apply the law in a much more specific and individualized kind of way.
May 1, Department of Justice. May 10, Retrieved Archived from the original on Parliament of Canada. Lee, Houston ChronicleMarch 9, The prosecution also agreed not to prosecute Beckham for charges relating to the online enticement of a minor and travel in interstate and foreign commerce for illicit sex. Dale Eric Beckham5. ed by Frances H. Standing on behalf of public interest was denied and the matter remains unresolved through the Canadian Courts.
Canadian Federation for Sexual Health. Archived from the original on 14 July Archived from the original on 20 March Raising the age of consent tries to make young teens off-limits. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender topics in Canada. LGBT culture in Vancouver.
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