*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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4th December 2009 Feature article by John Frame published by QNews magazine in their 4th December edition (#235) on page 9 “. Slightly edited for space by Toby Longhurst, with the headline “Gay Sex In Queensland – 20 years legal, but still not equal”.


 

QNews is one of Queensland’s two long running LGBT community “street press” magazines. Current and past editions are viewable online via the their website www.qnews.com.au   

 

 

View the original article as a screen snapshot from the QNews pdf file.

 

GAY SEX IN QUEENSLAND 20 YEARS LEGAL, BUT STILL NOT EQUAL

 

By John Frame

Queensland remains the only state or territory in Australia which has a “sodomy law” - a law which defines a higher age of consent at 18 for anal intercourse than for vaginal intercourse and other consenting sex (which is 16). The severe penalty for any offender (including youth) is up to 14 years imprisonment.

Equal age of consent reform is necessary for same-gender attracted youth to be protected and supported by the law in true equity with their heterosexual peers and siblings. Without that legal equity some youths will not survive to enjoy the benefits of any protection of their rights as adults.

This is a family issue - any loving parent would want all of their children to be treated with equity, and to have the best possibility of living long, healthy, loving and productive lives.

The current law validates those who wish to oppress homosexual youth and it reinforces institutionalised homophobia, leaving same-gender attracted youth at dramatically increased risk of harassment, abuse, depression and suicide. They may also face increased risk of HIV infection through reduced self-esteem and the impeded delivery of duly inclusive sexual health education.

The Sodomy Law is not about limiting the sexual activity of youth for any altruistic societal benefit – it is purely about bigotry based on unreasoned fears.

In 2008, La Trobe University conducted a national survey of Year 10 and 12 students which they published in August 2009 in the report Secondary Students and SexualHealth 2008. Their national statistics suggest that up to two per cent of 16 and 17 year old male Queensland youth could be defined as potential criminals, based solely on their consenting sexual activity. The law applies to youth as much as to any older person, and all it might take is a change of government for them to face the grim reality of criminal prosecution.

Queensland’s unequal age of consent was enacted by Goss Labor in the November 1990 Bill which otherwise “decriminalised” sex between men. They deliberately ignored their own Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee (PCJC) which had recommended that “The age of consent for homosexual acts in accordance with the principles of sexual equality and anti-discrimination be the same for males as it is for females, irrespective of whether the sexual act is heterosexual or homosexual.”

The scandal is that this was the only majority PCJC recommendation which was not realised in the November 1990 Bill. Hansard also shows that not one word was spoken about this Section in the passing of the Bill.

Goss Labor did later attempt to equalise the age of consent at 16, with their illfated 1995 Revised Criminal Code, but it was repealed by the Nationals in 1996.

However the Bligh Government flatly refuses to discuss a plan for reform – even though Queensland Labor’s official Policy Platform in Section 7.9 of the Justice and Governance Chapter states: “7.9 Labor will ensure uniformity of age among laws relating to the age of consent for lawful sexual activity”.

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth has stated that the current law is “not consistent with the objects of the Anti-Discrimination Act” and “constitutes a discriminatory provision which breaches Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

Community attitudes in Queensland have evolved in line with the rest of Australia – we’re overwhelmingly open-minded and compassionate. Our Government needs to reflect those values and bring us to the forefront of social reform in regard to the welfare of youth.

John Frame is an LGBT activist and was a long term presenter and producer of 4ZZZ’s weekly LGBT radio program Queer Radio. For more information about the fight to equalise the age of consent in Queensland, or for a 15 year archive of LGBT radio interviews, please visit www.queerradio.org