*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
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
From: John Frame
Ph 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561 firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Rapidly escalating risk of HIV to
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 that same day a combined media release by
“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.
Also accompanying this letter (attachment 5) is audio
compact disc of “voxpop” opinions which were recorded
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.
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.
the gay and lesbian community radio program “Queer Radio” www.queerradio.org on 4ZZZ fm102.1 in
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