Campaign for Age Of Consent awareness & removal of The Sodomy Law in Queensland

*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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5th October 2004 Email to Health Minister, Gordon Nuttall (C.C. to Premier and Mark Counter). I point out that Queensland Health’s youth-specific sexual-health website www.istaysafe.com does not include any mention of anal intercourse (or anything other than heterosexual sexuality). My email shows that I had misread Mr Nuttall’s 1st October 2004 letter – and that he had indeed expressed concern regarding risks presented to youth because of the Sodomy Law. I apologise for that error unreservedly. In all other respects however this email is an accurate reflection of my concerns.


 

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

From: John Frame

To: Premier Peter Beattie ; Mark Counter ; health@minister.qld.gov.au

Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 9:33 PM

Subject: Mr Nuttall's letter regarding Sodomy Law 1st Oct '04

 

From: John Frame, 82 Main Ave, Wavell Hts 4012.  Ph: 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561

 

To: Mr Gordon Nuttall MP, Minister for Health and Member for Sandgate in Queensland.

C.C. to Premier Peter Beattie

C.C. to Mark Counter, Queensland Health.

 

Dear Mr Nuttall,

 

I appreciate that you took the effort to write to me in response to my detailed expressed concerns regarding the negative effects of the Queensland Sodomy Law. For convenient reference I have included the text of your letter further below.

 

I am mystified however that you can say, without any supportive evidence, that the Sodomy Law does not present a very real risk to the physical health of young Queensland men and women.

 

Mr Beattie states in the 1990 PCJC Report on Homosexual Law reform that a major reason for Recommendation 7 (i.e. for an equal age of consent, regardless of the sexual act) was that the Committee accepted expert evidence that a Sodomy Law would impede HIV/AIDS education, while having no effect whatsoever on reducing the incidence of sexual activity that was high risk for HIV and other STD's.]

 

Recent Australian research by La Trobe University suggests up to 4% of young men and women aged 16-19 years will chose to engage in anal intercourse for a variety of reasons (including to avoid unwanted pregnancy and to retain an intact hymen). Unprotected anal intercourse is THE riskiest sexual activity a young person could engage in - and yet you claim that Queensland's Sodomy Law - the law which directly block safe sex education on this activity - presents no risk to young people? I urge you to explain your reasoning.

 

I made the above point very clear in my 25th August 2004 email (see much further below).

 

You also refer to Queensland Health's "ISTAYSAFE" website as if that were a shining example of comprehensive HIV/AIDS education for youth - and yet you should be aware that the website contains absolutely NO reference to anal sex. The reason for that omission is quite clearly the ongoing existence of the Sodomy Law. 

 

"ISTAYSAFE" also fails to include ANY mention or reference to any sexuality other than heterosexuality. Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are treated as invisible and of no importance. In this day and age that is an appalling state of affairs - contributing directly to low self-esteem in these youth. Therefore I am very concerned by your statement that Queensland Health is about to embark on a major state-wide school-based sexual health campaign based on that resource.

 

The only way that young gay, lesbian or bisexual people can expect to care enough about themselves to adequately care for their health, is if they know that they are acknowledged and accepted by society and can therefore expect the same from their peers. This process starts with all youth being treated equally under the law - regardless of their individual sexuality or their consenting sexual activity.

 

The only way that young people (from the age of 16) will know to protect their sexual health while engaging in anal intercourse is if safe-sex education is made available to them regarding anal intercourse - and that will only happen when the Sodomy Law has been repealed.

 

In 1995 the Goss Labor Government proposed a Revised Criminal Code in which the age of consent was still 16, but in which there was no mention of a Sodomy Law. The first act of the incoming Borbidge Coalition Government in 1996 was to repeal that revised Criminal Code and to double the penalties under the Sodomy Law. I suggest that since Labor saw it appropriate and necessary in 1995 to eliminate the Sodomy Law, then that reform is now grossly overdue.

 

I believe that the Beattie Government should have the honesty and integrity to enact this much needed reform of a law as a matter of extreme urgency. The Sodomy Law which would never have been passed in the first place if Mr Beattie's own Recommendation 7 had been accepted by Parliament.

 

I also point out that I have been advised that Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth has advised Attorney general Rod Welford that the Sodomy Law is inherently discriminatory. Although her Commission cannot force the Government to reform the law, I would hope that the Government acknowledges that the Commissioner has a highly valuable informed opinion.

 

I thank you for the suggestion that I might contact Corrective Services Minister Judy Spence, however this a matter which affects law makers and health administration, rather than law enforcement.

 

I welcome your detailed response.

 

yours sincerely,

 

John Frame
presenter of Queer Radio www.queerradio.org
on community radio 4ZZZ fm102.1 Brisbane.

Post: 82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012 QLD.
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561
more details: www.queerradio.org/JohnFrame.html

 

-----"There is no substitute for equality"-----

 

 

 

Text of letter dated 1st October 2004, received 5th October 2004:

 

Queensland Government

 

GORDON NUTTALL MP

Minister for Health

Member for Sandgate

 

MI 123412

 

Mr J Frame

Queer Radio

4ZZZ

82 Main Avenue

WAVELL HEIGHTS QLD 4102

 

Dear Mr Frame

 

Thank you for your email dated 25 August 2004, regarding Queensland laws relating to the age of consent for anal intercourse

 

Matters relating to the criminal code and the age of consent fall under the jurisdiction of my colleague the Honourable Judy Spence MP, Minister for Police and Corrective Services. I encourage you to write to her in relation to your specific concerns.

 

Queensland Health does share your concern relating to the risks of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible infections to young people, and conducts a number of programs aimed at reducing risks to this vulnerable population. These include operation of the ISTAYSAFE website covering information for young people on sexual and reproductive health, and the employment of over 120 school based nurses throughout the State.

 

In 2004/5 Queensland Health will commence a joint program with Education Queensland on the development of a sexual health curriculum to cover both primary and secondary schools. This project is part of a larger joint work plan involving a number of key areas relevant to youth health such as alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, healthy weight and mental health. The program aims to ensure that young people are provided with information and skills to help them minimise the risks posed by these important health issues.

 

Should you have any queries regarding my advice to you, Mr Mark Counter, Principal Program Advisor, Sexual Health, Communicable Diseases Unit, will be pleased to assist you and can be contacted on telephone 3234 1155.

 

Yours sincerely

 

GORDON NUTTALL MP

Minister for Health

Member for Sandgate

 

01 OCT 2004

 

Level 19 147-163 Charlotte Street Brisbane

 

GPO Box 48 Brisbane

Queensland 4001 Australia

 

Telephone +617 3234 1291

Facsimile +61 7 3229 4731

Email health@ministerial.qld.gov.au 

Website www.health.qld.gov.au

 

 


 

 

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

From: John Frame

To: Sandgate@parliament.qld.gov.au

Sent: Wednesday, August 25, 2004 2:37 PM

Subject: urgent Qld law reform re youth health

 

Dear Hon Gordon (G.R.) Nuttall

I am writing to beg your support for urgent reform of Queensland Criminal Law so that all our

State's youth are given adequate access to vital information to protect their health from HIV/AIDS.

 

A particularly high risk exists for 16 and 17 year old men and women because the current Criminal Law directly obstructs vital safe-sex information and education which could prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

 

Queensland Criminal Law must be reformed urgently to stop the ongoing life-threatening risks to which we are exposing all of our 16 and 17 year old men and women - regardless of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual.

 

HIV/AIDS does not discriminate, but Queensland's Criminal law definitely does - it discriminates actively against all youth aged 16 and 17 by threatening their health.

 

Peter Beattie chaired the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee in 1990 which reported in favour of decriminalising male-to-male sexual activity. The Committee reported that it accepted the evidence from esteemed experts that setting a higher minimum age for the sexual activity of anal intercourse would have no effect on reducing the incidence of that activity, but would definitely impede HIV/AIDS safe-sex information.

 

The PCJC Report's Recommendation 7 was:

“THE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS 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. (THIS PRINCIPLE IS HIGHLIGHTED IN POINT ONE ON PAGE 60 OF THE COMMISSION’S REPORT.)”

 

In November 1990 Parliament ignored the Commission's recommendation and set a higher minimum age for anal intercourse - effectively 18 years, instead of 16 for any other sexual activity. Anal intercourse is a Criminal Activity for 16 and 17 year old Queenslanders - with a maximum penalty of 14 years gaol.

 

Consequently it's no wonder that all of our family support and education services,  and health-care providers feel that they cannot provide information or support regarding such a clearly criminal activity.

 

"Unprotected" anal intercourse - that is without the proper use of condoms and suitable lubricant - is a very high risk activity for the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Proper use of condoms and lubricant make the activity extremely safe for HIV as well as for other sexually transmitted infections.

 

You should know that anal intercourse is NOT an exclusively homosexual activity. It is practiced by up to 4% of ALL 16 to 19 year old women and men (as advised by Dr Lynne Hillier of La Trobe University, Melbourne). Heterosexual women and men may choose anal intercourse because it presents no risk of unwanted pregnancy and because it also leaves the hymen intact (thereby retaining apparent virginity).   

 

On page 78 of the 1990 PCJC Report, Chairman Mr Peter Beattie stated:

 

“As the father of three young children I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure that by the time my children reach their teenage years everything is done over the years to wipe out AIDS.”

 

However the main thing that has not been done to wipe out AIDS in the last 14 years, and which directly affects all Queensland teenagers, is the reform of the Sodomy Law.

 

Queensland is the only State or Territory in Australia which maintains a "Sodomy Law" (Sections 208 & 209 of the Queensland Criminal Code 1899). In each of the other States and Territories the age of consent is truly equal for men and women - consequently they have equal access to support services and to vital safe-sex information.

 

For the sake of all current and future 16 and 17 year old male and female youth in Queensland I urge you to encourage and support Attorney General Mr. Welford toward swift reform.

 

Full details of my efforts to encourage this reform, since February 2000, are included on my website http://www.queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent.htm . That site includes details of all legal references, links to relevant documents, law reform history, community support and correspondence.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

John Frame
presenter of Queer Radio www.queerradio.org
on community radio 4ZZZ fm102.1 Brisbane.

Post: 82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012 QLD.
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561
more details: www.queerradio.org/JohnFrame.html

 

-----"There is no substitute for equality"-----