*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of Queensland, Australia - A campaign to remove our Sodomy Law (which was enacted in 1990).

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2nd December 2007 Email to ABC Radio 612 announcer Madonna King regarding her blatant attempt to sabotage my “talk back” question for Premier Anna Bligh on 30th November 2007 on the issue of Equal Age Of Consent Reform. On the eve of World AIDS Day, I particularly wanted The Premier to address the fact that the current law actively impedes adequate relevant safe sex education for 16 and 17 year olds. Sadly ABC presenter Madonna King allowed The Premier to get away with an answer which was pure obfuscation.

 

Listen to the question and response here as an mp3 ( 570k, 1m 40s).  Please note: On 26 October 2007 I had spoken off-air only with her show’s producer and I was advised that they do not allow more than one question to the Premier on any one topic – and that my only option would be to phone back on 30 November and take my chances with every other caller at getting to put my question to the Premier.

 

I had asked:

"Regarding the fact that Queensland, since 2003, it's been the only state or territory in Australia which has an unequal age of consent and that leaves Queensland's 16 and 17 year olds in a situation where they're not getting adequate relevant safe sex education, why is the Queensland Government not willing to change the law so that Queensland 16 and 17 year olds are treated with equal protection, equal support - especially regarding HIV infection - as is every other youth around Australia?"

 

I had clearly stated that 16 and 17 year old youth were not getting “adequate relevant” safe sex education – I did not say that the current law blocks all safe sex education. It seems clear from the experience of both Peter R. On 26 October 2007 and myself on this day, that Premier Bligh cannot be expected to give a straight answer to any question on this issue.

 

NB: No response was ever received from Madonna King.

 

 

----- Original Message -----

From: John Frame

To: king.madonna@abc.net.au

Cc: John Frame

Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 10:03 PM

Subject: re Premier Bligh on Madonna King show 30th Nov '07

 

Dear Madonna,

 

I have included further below, for your reference, a copy of the email which I sent on Friday to Premier Bligh in which I point out the serious problems with her response to my question on the issue of the HIV risk for youth which is inherent in Queensland's unequal age of consent legislation.

 

You should know that I was not the person who had spoken on air the previous time that Anna Bligh was on your program (26th October). That man was 19 year old Peter R______ of Taringa. I did phone the ABC immediately after hearing how callously Anna Bligh had dismissed Peter's important question - and without even attempting to offer a reason for her Government's refusal to consider this reform.

 

On that occasion your producer Vanessa advised me that you do not allow people to ask questions on an issue which has already been raised on the day's session with the Premier. Vanessa told me that my only option was to consider phoning back again on 30th November and taking my chances on being able to ask the Premier to explain her reasons.

 

So when I phoned soon after 10am last Friday I made it very clear to Vanessa that I was not the person who had spoken on air on the 26th October. That's why, when you interrupted my on-air question, I thought you must have been referring to the fact that I had phoned and spoken with Vanessa on the 26th October.

 

Peter R______'s 26th October question had been:

“I was wondering when the Queensland Government was going to change the age of consent laws between differing sexual activities from 18 for anal intercourse to 16 to be in line with vaginal intercourse?" 

 

And the Premier took advantage of that "closed" question to avoid justifying her Government's stance by saying:

“Peter, our Government has no plans to consider that issue. So I guess that the answer to your question is that there is no time frame because we have no plans in relation to that.”

 

I know that Peter was absolutely shocked by the Premier's answer - and by the fact that he was not allowed to ask for a better answer. As a 19 year old who has been in a two year loving relationship with a man of the same age, Peter has personal experience of the negative effects of the current law. Queensland is the only place in Australia where a 17 year old is an "adult" under Criminal Law - everywhere else the age is 18. While either of them was under 18 years of age, they both could have faced up to 14 years in gaol for freely chosen sexual activity. The "Courts Bench Book" states that "consent" can not be considered as a defence for this "crime". 

 

I would be happy to discuss this matter further with you - and to connect you with other groups who strongly support equal age of consent reform, including Qld Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth, Qld Assn for Healthy Communities Manager Paul Martin, Brisbane Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays President Shelley Argent, Lesbian and Gay Youth Support Service "Open Doors", eminent GP Dr Wendell Rosevear, Criminologist Professor Paul Wilson, Psychologist and Psychotherapist Tim Klein, Action Reform Change Qld spokesperson Rodney Goodbun and also with several affected youth.   

 

I hope that you will appreciate that this is indeed a serious matter - one which the Queensland Government has been able to ignore, in spite of significant long term community lobbying. 

 

On 20th June 2005 Steve Austin invited me to the ABC studios to speak with him on air for eight minutes on this issue. An hour later I checked with the ABC switchboard and they told me that not one person had called the station in response. That fact indicates to me that the ABC's listeners are completely at ease with the need for this reform - however time has proven that the Queensland Government will not enact reform without being strongly pushed by mainstream media.

 

For the sake of Queensland youth I welcome any action or support you can provide.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

My sincere regards,   

 

John Frame
jvframe@ozemail.com.au
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / mobile: 0409 501 561
Post: 82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012, QLD, Australia.

 

----- Original Message -----

From: John Frame

To: ThePremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

Cc: Attorney@ministerial.qld.gov.au

Sent: Friday, November 30, 2007 3:10 PM

Subject: Premier Bligh on Madonna King show 30th Nov '07

 

To Premier Anna Bligh

C.c. to Attorney-General Kerry Shine (re Qld Criminal Law in need of reform)

 

Dear Ms Bligh,

 

Today I asked you the following question on the Madonna King Show on ABC612 local radio:

 

"Regarding the fact that Queensland, since 2003, it's been the only state or territory in Australia which has an unequal age of consent and that leaves Queensland's 16 and 17 year olds in a situation where they're not getting adequate relevant safe sex education,  why is the Queensland Government not willing to change the law so that Queensland 16 and 17 year olds are treated with equal protection, equal support - especially regarding HIV infection - as is every other youth around Australia?"

 

I wasn't given the opportunity to ask for further details on air, but I believe that you failed to address the question of why Queensland youth are allowed to continue to be treated in an inferior manner to other Australian youth.

 

Also in your response you expressed your personal opinion that you believe that youth are already getting enough safe sex support in schools. While that may be true for a minority of youth - perhaps heterosexual youth attending enlightened private schools - it needs to be made true for all students.

 

The current Criminal Law defines anal intercourse as an extreme criminal activity for 16 and 17 year olds, punishable by up to 14 years gaol - with "consent" being considered irrelevant in the courts. The impact of that criminality is that there is virtually no mention in school based sex-ed or relationships classes of this sexual activity - let alone mention of safe sexual practice in that regard.

 

La Trobe University research estimates that 20% of ALL youth (whether straight or gay) choose to engage in anal intercourse. That means that tens of thousands of Queensland youth are being exposed to high risk of HIV and other STI's without adequate safe sex education, directly as a result of the Government's ongoing inaction on equal age of consent reform. 

 

The current law also directly affects the level of expressed acceptance and inclusion of same sex attracted youth in relationships education, as well as in sex education. I bet that you would struggle to find same sex attracted Queensland youths who found any level (let alone an adequate level) of inclusion during relationships/sex education classes in their high school years.

 

It is of utmost importance that ALL youth be adequately supported and protected under the law. They need to be equal under the law, first and foremost, in order to expect to be treated equally by family, friends and society. Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner has advised your Government in July 2005 that this reform is urgently required.

 

How does your Government justify leaving young lives at risk of HIV, as well as abuse, self-harm, depression and suicide? What do you stand to lose by reforming this law - a law which, based on a Fitzgerald Report recommendation, should never have even been passed in 1990.   

 

I welcome your response or query.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

John Frame
jvframe@ozemail.com.au
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / mobile: 0409 501 561
Post: 82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012, QLD, Australia.
 
----"There is no substitute for equality"----