*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
19th January 2008 Email to all
----- Original Message -----
From: John Frame
To: Each individual Member of Queensland Parliament
Sent: Saturday, January 19, 2008 6:46 PM
Subject: Qld mother urges Equal Age Of Consent reform
Please note: a copy of this basic email has been separately addressed to each individual Member of Parliament (as per http://www.queerradio.org/AOC190108.htm )
To: ______ Member for ______
It has now been eight years since I first raised the need for Equal Age Of Consent reform with the Queensland (Labor) Government and it has been six months since I mailed to you, and to every other Member Of Parliament, a DVD-Video and CD-ROM of six expert statements in support of Equal Age Of Consent Reform in Queensland ( http://www.queerradio.org/AOC_June_2007_DVD_CD-ROM_pack.htm ).
Those statements proved that this reform is not only clearly justified, but that it is also urgently required in order to allow equity in the support and protection of all youth.
I received positive responses mainly from Labor Members of Parliament, including some Ministers, but I am saddened to report that the Queensland Government remains officially unmoved and has chosen to leave same sex attracted youth at increased risk of harassment, self harm and suicide by perpetuating a law which is known to actively discriminate against those youth. (Please read Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth's 15th July 2005 letter to the Premier and the Attorney-General http://www.queerradio.org/AOC150705_ADCQ.htm ).
This same law also presents a very real threat of HIV (and other STI) infection for all youth who are aged 16 and 17 because of the fact that anal intercourse is currently defined as a severe criminal activity at their age (with a penalty of 14 years gaol). That sexual activity is known to be common to approximately 20% of all youth (regardless of their gender or sexuality). Therefore the current law strongly suppresses the inclusion of same sex attracted youth in both sexual health and relationships education (while having no effect at all in curbing sexual activity) and it also places a large number of heterosexual youth at risk.
I am particularly disappointed that Premier Anna Bligh is reluctant to support this reform when, as a mother of a young teenage son, she ought to be well aware that the current law presents a looming potential risk to her own family.
I would expect that all mothers would want the best possibility of protection and support for their children - regardless of their gender or sexuality. The only way to make that possible is to enact a truly equal age of consent at age 16, as was officially recommended to Parliament in October 1990 by a Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee which was Chaired by former Premier Peter Beattie. Mr. Beattie and our current Acting Premier Robert Schwarten both voted in line with fellow Labor Members of Parliament Wendy Edmond and Margaret Woodgate to make a Majority Recommendation for a truly equal age of consent. Please read the supporting argument for "Recommendation 7" on pages 44-49 of that PCJC Report:
I believe that this reform will only eventuate if
enough courageous Members of Parliament, of whatever
political affiliation, have the moral fortitude to speak out. When
Equal Age Of Consent Reform was passed in the
In 1996 the Borbidge Government
repealed Goss Labor's "1995 Revised Criminal Code" - a Code
which otherwise would have enacted a truly equal age of consent. There is
no better time than the present for Labor to again prove that
it feels a duty of care, through equity, for all
Finally I strongly urge you to consider reviewing parent Shelley Argent's statement of support on the DVD that I sent you. Shelley is a mother of two sons - one son is gay (and in a long term relationship) and the other son is heterosexual (and single). For more than a decade Shelley has organised the peer support group "Brisbane Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays" http://www.pflagbrisbane.org.au/ .
In 2006 Shelley was awarded an Order of Australia Medal as acknowledgement of her great efforts, through PFLAG, to support the community. Shelley will tell you, with fully informed honesty, exactly why all parents should support Equal Age Of Consent Reform.
Below is a link to Shelley Argent's video statement as stored for public access on YouTube, as well as the text of the complete transcript. Shelley invites you to contact her by phone 0409 363 335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss any aspect of her statement.
Every day's delay in enacting this reform could mean the loss or ruination of a young Queenslander's life.
I welcome your comments.
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / mobile: 0409 501 561
----"There is no substitute for equality"----
Shelley Argent's statement at YouTube:
Shelley Argent's statement as text (below) sourced from:
My name’s Shelley Argent and I’m the mother of a 30 year old gay male.
I’m President of a support group called PFLAG – which stands for Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays, and is a peer support group for parents who are struggling to understand their child’s or son’s or daughter’s sexual diversity.
In 2006 I received an OAM for my work in the gay community for encouraging understanding and acceptance.
And I’ve also written quite a few booklets – one was for young people who are questioning their sexuality and another one called “Sexuality Is Not A Choice”. That was written for parents who are struggling to understand their child’s sexual diversity and it also hopefully hastens to encourage their understanding and acceptance.
Also too, in 2006, I
wrote a information package that was sent to all the
school-based health nurses around
So that’s basically me, and I would like to say that I’m very glad today to be giving my opinion, and PFLAG’s opinion, on equality regarding age of consent.
OK. Could you share with us that opinion?
Well what I’ll do first, if you like, is I’ll just read the general statement that PFLAG parents put out and that is that we believe that the equality regarding age of consent is discriminatory here in
Same sex attracted youth are having underage sex – whether we like to think they are or not – and the problem is it’s without the benefit of legally accessing information to keep them safe.
Health workers also, it’s another issue for them, because health workers are unsure about the legalities and the repercussions regarding providing safe sex information to these young people.
Under-age gay youth are hesitant also to seek the information and have sexual health checks – which is very important, we all know – because of fear of embarrassment. And also too, there’s the issue that if they did get an STI or have some health problem, there’s the fear that they may have to disclose the partner’s name. And then again that has more repercussions because then that person, if they’re over the age of 18 could then be charged with having sex with a minor. And so because the young person doesn’t want to implicate their older partner, if he is older, it puts the young person in a very dangerous position.
Also too, regarding sexual predators and the exploitation of gay youth - with all the research I’ve done over the years, I have found absolutely no proof to suggest that sexual predators are an issue regarding gay youth if the age of consent was lowered.
Equality regarding age of consent also – we believe doesn’t mean that gay youth will become more promiscuous. We believe that it means that they will feel more confident to access reliable information before engaging in a sexual act.
Also too, research shows that if young people are informed properly regarding safe sex activity, they don’t necessarily have sex at an earlier age. Very often they have it later. And also too, if they do have it a young age, which a lot of kids are these days, they have the information and so they do engage in safe sex practices – which keeps them, again, safe.
We also believe that equality regarding the age of consent neither encourages nor promotes homosexuality. And research shows that homosexuality poses no threat to society. We believe that this law, as it presently stands, is not protecting our gay youth and it’s actually endangering their lives.
As a parent who, when my son did “come out” at quite an early age, I – like an awful lot of PFLAG parents – were quite fearful about the issue of safe sex, and HIV and things. And I didn’t have the benefit of even having the child under 18 have the safe sex practices. And I think this is a real issue for a lot of people these days. The parents, they’re all fearful – because as a parent, we don’t know about safe sex with homosexuality, because we’re not homosexuals. So we can’t give our children that information. So they need to be able to go somewhere who can give them that information, keep them safe, and not have the fear that they themselves will get into trouble by providing our young people with safe sex information.
Excellent. So do you also see that it’s important that parents, we would expect, would want to see all their children being equally protected and supported – not just their heterosexual children?
That’s right. No. I mean equality isn’t just for some of our children, it’s for all of our children – and it should be across the board. And we all know that safe sex is a very important thing for everybody, regardless of your age. And also too these days young people, whether they’re straight or gay, are engaging in sexual practices at an earlier age – and our heterosexual young people, they do have the benefit of safe sex education or relationship education, because it’s there in the high schools all the time. But our homosexual or same sex attracted youth, they don’t have that benefit. They’re getting very little information and most of it is negative. And again a lot of the same sex young people, they’ve got low self-esteem because they’re hearing all the time that to be gay or lesbian is bad. And so again, if you’ve low self-esteem you’re not going to look after yourself like you would if you had confidence and you’re not going to have the same respect for your self.
(end of interview)