*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
10th July 2003 Email to
To: Queensland Pride magazine
From: John Frame
Ph 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561
Re: letter re on page 3 of Queensland Pride edition 178 (
Topic: We do indeed have a “Sodomy Law” in
We do indeed have a “Sodomy
The last edition of QP opened on page 3 with an article covering the 20th June forum held by Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth. The article states that “Booth identified an equal age of consent, adoption reform, removal of the gay panic defence and superannuation reform as key legal battles still to be won at a state level”
However, in the paragraph following this Susan is quoted as saying “the
removal of sodomy laws was not because of a kind-hearted state government. We
don’t have sodomy laws in
The actual “age of consent” in
“Sodomy laws” are those laws which prohibit particular private
consenting sexual activities, or which define a higher minimum age for those
activities than is otherwise declared as being the “age of consent”. Such
discriminatory laws were struck down across the
Unfortunately we do indeed have an easily identifiable and very real
sodomy law in
Sections 208 and 209 were those parts of our law that used to make all sex between men illegal. They were amended in November 1990 when the Goss Government “decriminalised” homosexuality, but also bowed to pressure from their own conservative MP’s, and defined in those sections the crime of “unlawful anal intercourse” involving any person “not an adult” under criminal law (which was either 17 or 18 depending on who you ask).
In 1997 the National/Liberal Coalition decided to change the offence from “unlawful anal intercourse” to “unlawful sodomy”. They also doubled the penalties and fixed a clear minimum age of 18. These amendments were not even debated by the Labor Opposition.
I have spoken today with Commissioner Susan Booth, and I’m satisfied that she knows our current laws. Susan told me she had considered a “sodomy law” to be the total banning of homosexual sex – as was the case before the November 1990 reform.
So I know the misunderstanding here is a case of semantics – the meaning
of words. Yet to me a mention of support for an equal age of consent – even if
that’s the first item mentioned - doesn’t make up for the statement that
follows, which includes the specific phrase “we don’t have sodomy laws”. It’s
not our fault that you can’t mention age of consent in
The dangerous thing is that at least 80% of
For many uninformed or unimaginative people there is no difference in meaning between the two terms “anal intercourse” and “gay sex” (for males). The ongoing misinformation regarding our laws means that most service providers for youth definitely err on the safe side and don’t even discuss same sex issues or support for gay and bisexual men aged under 18. This is a tragedy for those youth, because they are surrounded by an aura of potential illegality (whether they are sexually active or not) – and that adversely affects their self-esteem, as much as their health and well-being.