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

what the law means...an easy to read pamphlet...a brief story of the campaign so far...the need for community action...homosexual law reform history in Qld...Government legislation referencesCorrespondence Summary List...   RETURN to opening page

6th June 2005 Letter with attachments to Attorney-General Rod Welford, Premier Peter Beattie and to Health Minister Gordon Nuttall calling for urgent action on Sodomy Law reform in the light of two significant publications during May 2005:

(1) a Queensland Health announcement that HIV infection rates continue to climb in our state (by 19.% in 2004), and

(2) a detailed report by Melbourne’s La Trobe University which shows that same sex attracted 16 & 17 year old youth (those denied safe sex education on anal intercourse in Queensland) are at particularly high risk of HIV infection.


 

To:      separate letters to each of Attorney-General Rod Welford, Premier Peter Beattie and Health Minister Gordon Nuttall

 

From: John Frame

            82 Main Avenue, Wavell Hts 4012

            Ph 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561 jvframe@bigpond.net.au

 

Date: 6th June 2005

 

Re:  Rapidly escalating risk of HIV to Queensland Youth as a direct result of Queensland’s 1990 “Sodomy Law” (sections 208 & 209 of the Criminal Code).

 

Synopsis:

On 5th May 2005 Qld Health reported their concern that HIV infections in Queensland had increased by 19.2% in 2004. This is an increase of 40% since 2001. Also in May a published national survey by La Trobe University found that same sex attracted youth aged 15-18 years are having penetrative sex earlier than the average of their high school peers and that they are 5 times more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections. 

 

Queensland’s 1990 “Sodomy Law” (Sections 208 and 209 of the Criminal Code) sets a higher age of consent for anal intercourse at 18, than exists for vaginal intercourse (16). Consequently that law severely impedes vital safe sex information for 16 and 17 year olds regarding anal intercourse - which is a high risk sexual activity for HIV transmission.  

 

Failure to reform the Sodomy Law would mean that the Government is consciously allowing thousands of Queensland youth to remain at unacceptably high risk of HIV.

 

Attachments:

1. Qld Health media release 5th May 2005

2. Combined HIV Service Groups media release 5th May 2005

3. Qld AIDS Council Manager Paul Martin media release 3rd February

4. Parliamentary E-Petition for reform of the Sodomy Law

5. Audio CD of “voxpop” opinions recorded at a public rally in Brisbane’s New Farm Park 13th February 2005. (Copies are available on request)

 

Dear Mr Beattie,

 

In August 2004 I contacted all Queensland members of Parliament to make sure they were aware of the risk to which youth are exposed as a direct result of our state’s archaic “Sodomy Law” (Sections 208 and 209 of the Criminal Code).  Under current State legislation ‘sodomy’ or anal intercourse is illegal until age 18, while all other consenting sexual activity is legal from age 16.  The maximum penalty is 14 years imprisonment.

 

Unprotected anal intercourse (i.e. without using a condom) presents the highest risk for HIV infection and yet youth aged 16 and 17 are denied safe sex information regarding that activity (specifically because of its illegal status for them).

 

Many Members of Parliament responded supportively to my email, including Members of all Parties and some Independents. I am certain that a majority of MP’s favour reform of this law, however I believe that reform must be enacted as soon as possible especially due to the increasing incidence of HIV infection in our state.

 

On 5th May 2005 Queensland Health issued a media release stating concern that 2004 had seen a 19.2% increase in state-wide HIV infections. (attachment #1)

 

On that same day a combined media release by Queensland’s HIV/AIDS service agencies (attachment #2) stated that this represents a 40% increase since 2001. Queensland AIDS Council Manager Paul Martin is quoted in that release as warning that “this rise underscores the importance of the safe sex message and that none of us can be complacent”.

 

On 3rd February 2005 Qld AIDS Council Manager Paul Martin issued a media release specifically calling for reform of the “Sodomy Law” (attachment #3) and I quote from that release:

 

The current law causes confusion amongst many in the community who believe that all sex between men is illegal before the age of 18” said Paul R Martin of the Queensland AIDS Council.  We are concerned that young people who are sexually active are reluctant to come forward to access sexual health services and receive sex & relationships education for fear of being prosecuted”.

 

Mr Martin went on to say “There is no legitimate reason why the age at which young men and women can have vaginal sex, which may result in child birth, should be any different from the age at which people can legally have anal sex. The current law does nothing to protect young people, on the contrary it criminalises young people who choose to have anal sex”.

 

On 25th May 2005 Melbourne’s La Trobe University (Dr Lynne Hillier et al) published an important report on a national survey of 1,749 “same sex attracted youth” (go to http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/ to view their linked pdf file http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/pdfs/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf ). The researchers found that the clear majority of same sex attracted youth are aware of their sexual attraction by age 16 (if not by 13); that they are sexually active at an earlier age than their heterosexual peers; that 70% had engaged in penetrative sexual intercourse and that only 75% of 15-18 year olds had used condoms in their last encounter. They also found that same sex attracted youth were 5 times as likely to suffer a sexually transmitted infection as would the average high school student – proving their higher risk of exposure to HIV.

 

The La Trobe report when combined with Queensland Health’s own finding on the increasing rate of HIV infection is substantial proof that the “Sodomy Law” must be removed urgently so all youths, regardless of their gender or sexuality, may hope to receive adequate education, support and protection from school counselors, health service providers, police and legal services .

 

A truly equal age of consent for all sexual activities is also vital for acceptance by family and by peers.

 

Since 31st January 2005 there has been a Queensland Parliament E-Petition (attachment #4) which I have proposed in favour of reforming the “Sodomy Law”.  The petition has attracted 472 signatories up to today’s date and will remain open until 31st July 2005.

 

Also accompanying this letter (attachment 5) is audio compact disc of “voxpop” opinions which were recorded on February 13th 2005 at the “Love-In For Love Equality” picnic rally at New Farm Park, and which were broadcast during Queer Radio on 4ZZZfm on 16th February. These participants represent both the urban and rural negative impact of the Sodomy Law.

 

You will hear honest and informed comments from representative students of University of Queensland; University of Southern Queensland; the Manager of the Queensland AIDS Council; three parents from “Parents Family & Friends of Lesbians And Gays”; as well as from youth as young as 16 from the Brisbane youth service “Open Doors” and from Toowoomba’s all-ages lesbian and gay social group “The Silver Wheat Society”. These men and women will tell you, in their own words and from their own experience, exactly why the Sodomy Law must be reformed.

 

On Saturday the 25th June 2005 I will host the annual Brisbane Lesbian & Gay Pride Rally in King George Square. I will speak out about the tragic consequences of the continuing delays in Queensland Parliament’s reform of the 1990 “Sodomy Law”.

 

As a sign of respect and concern for the health of our state’s youth I urge you to be proactive in achieving a commitment to the rapid enactment of this reform.

 

I warmly welcome your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

John Frame

 

Presenter of the gay and lesbian community radio program “Queer Radio” www.queerradio.org  on 4ZZZ fm102.1 in Brisbane.

 

For full details of how the history of the Queensland Sodomy Law, its impact and of my efforts toward gaining this reform since March 2000, please go to: www.queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent.htm