OK lets talk about the real issue. At what age should the law (not religion) permit human beings to partake of consensual SEX? Let us leave to one side (for now) descriptions like hetero- and homo-.
The basic rule of many religions is that SEX outside marriage is morally reprehensible and is not permitted. The origin of this rule is complex but, at its heart, is the belief that sex is for the purpose of reproduction and not for pleasure, pleasure is a side effect not the end in itself.
This principle is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in these terms "Sexual pleasure is morally disordered when sought for itself, isolated from its procreative and unitive purposes". For this reason and probably endless others, the Catholic church makes a sin of each of lust, masturbation, fornication (carnal union between an unmarried man and woman), pornography, prostitution, rape and homosexuality (which, for those who may think includes only males, includes sexual attraction and relations between both man and man and woman and woman) .
The difficulty that then arises is where should the law draw the line? One great difference between sin and illegality (certainly in the Christian world) is that sin can be forgiven, crime is punished and rarely forgiven in many spheres of life. Crime is punished with (at worst) imprisonment and that is rarely erased from someone's history , especially in a small society like Gibraltar.
I believe that most readers would agree that lust alone or masturbation should not be criminalised. Most people will probably agree that, subject to age limits, presently 16 years of age, fornication should not be criminalised. Pornography laws are certainly necessary but great discretion and societal considerations are taken into account in their application and enforcement. Prostitution ... probably debatable. Rape undoubtedly should be criminalised.
Then the difficult one homosexuality. Well lets see, homosexuality between two females is not a crime, where is the Catholic church's campaign to have this sin criminalised? Homosexuality between two males is a crime, unless it is committed in private and between two consenting adults of 18 years or more. So the law has accepted that, despite that the Catholic church considers it to be a sin, like masturbation and fornication, homosexuality between two men itself should not be a crime.
So the issue is the disparity between the ages 16 for heterosexuals and 18 for homosexuals. There may be good arguments for increasing both ages and equalising them at a higher age say 21, or equalising them at 18. But let us take into account what actually happens in society. Girls of under 16 are frequently getting pregnant. Does anyone get prosecuted for this? Rarely if at all. Are we going to marginalise more young people in society by increasing the age of consent? Are we going to make the job of the police and prosecuting authorities that much more (nigh on impossibly) burdensome? Are we going to become an even more hypocritical society and turn a blind eye to under age pregnancies and only prosecute homosexuals (itself an unconstitutional application of the law)? These and many more issues are the issues that need to be considered before enacting a law regulating age of consent.
Additionally, a question that each of us needs to ask ourself is, whether, if a close member of ones family, i.e. a son, daughter, brother or sister confessed to an illegal consensual sexual act committed in private, would any one of us pick up the telephone and report the crime to the police, thus condemning that close family member to potential imprisonment and a criminal record/history for life? If the answer is NO, then whoever so answers should not profess or support a law that he/she is not prepared to have upheld.
Readers may like to be reminded and to bear in mind that the age for consent to marriage in the Catholic church is 16 for males and 14 for females. This church considers that 16 is an age at which both males and females (in their case 2 years into their maturity) are sufficiently mature to decide to marry for life, have sex and reproduce.
Religion and morality have a major role to play in society. It has been the case for centuries that the law has to walk a difficult path between what may be considered to be religiously and morally wrong and what is actually happening in society because an act considered sinful is tolerated generally. There are, of course, absolutes of right and wrong. there are wrongs that the law will never permit and so religion, morality and the law will coincide. Where there is a divergence it is for parents and religious ministers and educators to instil values and not for the law to substitute for these.
Compassion, respect, sensitivity, understanding, tolerance and some objective thinking is called for. After all the Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following to say on homosexuality:
"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."
It preaches the avoidance of sin through chastity.