Mexico has not lowered its age for sexual consent to 12, contrary to claims circulating on social media and websites.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter tweeted on June 30 that the age of consent in Mexico is now "12 for the whole country," and linked to a Your News Wire story making the same claim.
Mexico raised its age for sexual consent from 12 to 15 in 2012, according to a review of historical changes to the penal code available online from the Mexican government. Prior to the change, sexual activity involving children from the age of 12 through 17 could still be prosecuted under laws governing corruption of minors, or if consent was obtained through deceit. Those restrictions now apply to children 15 to 17 years old.
Current Mexican law states that "copulation with a person under 15 years of age" is "equated to rape" and punishable by eight to 30 years in prison — or longer, if "physical or moral violence" is involved. The most recent version of the penal code is dated June 21, 2018. There has been no new legislation to change that.
The claims came amid the Trump administration's crackdown on people crossing the border illegally between the U.S. and Mexico. The administration's "zero-tolerance" policy and the separation of more than 2,000 children from their parents at the border have led to intense criticism.
The Your News Wire webpage tweeted by Coulter linked to a Wikipedia page about the age of consent in North and Central America, which in turn linked to an outdated version of the penal code on the Wayback Machine, which preserves and archives webpages even after they are deleted or defunct. Your News Wire did not provide comment on the post.
The story also makes the false claim that the European Parliament in Brussels is looking at lowering its age of consent from 16 to 13 throughout the European Union. The European Union does not decide the age of consent for its member countries. It is up to the countries themselves to designate the age of consent.
This is part of The Associated Press' ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.