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Julian Lewis, a member of parliament representing New Forest East of Hampshire in England, has been criticized by some in his own party following a letter he wrote to a constituent regarding the gay age of consent in the United Kingdom, the BBC reports.
The letter in question asserts his opinion that the gay age of consent should not have been brought down from 18 years old to the heterosexual age of consent, which is 16. He pointed to HIV infection risk as his primary reason for opposition: "When it comes to legalizing practices that involve serious physical risk, I believe the higher limit should apply. This is the reason why we no longer allow sixteen and seventeen year-olds into front-line situations in the armed forces, for example."
Lewis was quick to point out that he has voted in favor of civil partnerships twice and feels that they facilitate steady relationships. He wrote, "One of the criticisms commonly made of gay relationships is that very often they do not last. It therefor seems obvious to me that, when a gay couple wish to commit to each other, by forming a permanent relationship, they should be encouraged and assisted in every way. We are talking about adults and so my reservations about the age of consent do not apply."
A spokesman for the Conservative, or "Tory," Party stated, "These are Dr. Lewis's long-held and personal views, they are not the view of the Conservative Party, and the terms in which he expressed them is wrong." However, a Liberal Democratic Party official said, "This is a shocking reminder that the Conservative Party remain completely out of touch with modern Britain. It seems that Cameron's claims of change have yet to reach the rest of his party."
In a letter to Conservative leader David Cameron, Home Secretary Alan Johnson insisted, "You have been actively seeking the votes of gay people throughout Britain, but your front bench team includes people who are evidently against any notion of homosexual equality. You need to show some leadership and sack Mr. Lewis. Otherwise your claim that the Conservative Party represents change will prove to be nothing but a shallow public relations exercise."