*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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21st April 2009 Letter to newly appointed Attorney-General Cameron Dick citing Qld Anti-Discrimination Susan Booth’s 15th July 2005 letter calling for urgent reform and offering a brief outline of how the unequal age of consent should never have been passed. I show that there is no Hansard evidence of any Member of Parliament arguing either for or against a higher age for anal intercourse in the three opportunities for them to do so. I state that Queensland Labor has a proven record that they have a moral obligation to enact equal age of consent reform and ask for an honest commitment and effective timeframe for action. Premier Bligh has advised that the decision on reform is entirely in the hands of the Attorney-General and we can only hope that this new Minister will prove himself to be a man of integrity and action.          

 

 

To:      Attention Hon. Attorney-General Cameron Dick,

PO Box 149

Brisbane 4001

 

From: John Frame

82 Main Avenue

Wavell Heights 4012

Ph: 07 3350 1562

Email: jvframe@ozemail.com.au Website: www.queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent.htm

 

Date:   21st April 2009

 

Re: The need for long overdue reform of the Queensland Criminal Code to come in line with the rest of Australia in the treatment of youth through enacting a truly equal age of consent – thereby allowing equal protection and support for all youth, regardless of their gender or their sexuality.

 

Attachments:

  (1) copy of 15th July 2005 letter from Qld Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth to both the Attorney-General and the Premier.

  (2) “Recommendation 7” for equal age of consent, extracted from the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee Report No. 2 of 1990.  

  (3) CD-ROM with original pdf files of (a) the Qld Criminal Justice Commission May 1990 Information Paper on Reforms In Laws Relating To Homosexuality” and (b) the consequent Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee Report No. 2 of 1990. 

 

 

Dear Cameron,

 

I congratulate you on your appointment as Queensland’s Attorney-General.

 

I am writing to be sure that you will be personally aware that Queensland’s Criminal Code needs to be urgently reformed to bring it in line with every other Australian state and territory by enacting true equity in regard to the age of consent for sexual activity.

 

Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth clearly called for urgent age of consent reform in her 15th July 2005 letter to Attorney-General Rod Welford and to Premier Peter Beattie (see copy as attachment #1). In her letter Commissioner Booth specified why the existing law is in breach of international human rights:

 

“In 1994 in the case of Toonen V Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Riqhts prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The older age limit for lawful sodomy in section 208 of the Criminal Code therefore constitutes a discriminatory provision which breaches Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Other States and Territories have, since the decision in Toonen, repealed similar discriminatory and homophobic laws.”

 

An equal age of consent at 16 is exactly what was officially recommended in October 1990 Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee Report No. 2 (an original pdf of the full report is in the attached CD-ROM). That Committee was Chaired by Peter Beattie, who includes his written declaration of support for the first eight recommendations – and Recommendation 7 was that “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.” (see attachment 2).

 

Goss Cabinet at that time made a “behind closed doors” decision to ignore just that one of nine majority recommendations in the Report. In order to placate a small number of ultra-conservative Labor MP’s Attorney-General Dean Wells was told to present Parliament with a Bill which decriminalised sex between men but which set a higher minimum age for any person “not an adult” (i.e. not 17) to engage in anal intercourse. Hansard shows that not one word was spent in arguing either for or against that aspect of the Bill.

 

Attorney-General Wells attempted to set things right in his 1995 Revised Criminal Code which defined the age of consent at 16 (with no exceptions). Again Hansard shows that no Member of Parliament spoke a single word either for or against that aspect of the Bill.

 

The 1995 Revised Criminal Code was passed by the Labor majority, but with a very long period set for it to become law, and unfortunately before that could happen the Borbidge National/Liberal coalition regained power and their first act was to repeal the new Code. They re-installed and then drastically revamped the 1899 Criminal Code – including raising the minimum age for “sodomy” (a change in terminology designed to be more offensive and less specific) to 18 and they doubled the penalty to 14 years gaol.

 

Yet again Hansard shows that no Member of Parliament spoke a single word either for or against that aspect of the Bill – which proves that few, if any, Members held any genuine belief that there should ever have been a higher minimum age for anal intercourse.

 

In 2003 when the Northern Territory Government was voting on equal age of consent reform (at 16), some conservative party MPs actually crossed the floor to join the Labor majority in passing the Bill as a public gesture to emphasise their belief in the social justice of that reform.

 

I believe that Queensland Labor has a past history which proves that it is morally obligated to ensure that our state’s youth are not disadvantaged in comparison to other Australian youth, and I urge you to ensure that the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner’s 2005 recommendation for urgent equal age of consent reform is finally realised.

 


All of the detailed arguments which justify this reform were made and recorded in the Criminal Justice Commission’s May 1990 Information Paper and the PCJC’s October 1990 Report. More recent LaTrobe University research adds the statistics of drastically increased risk to the health and well being of same sex attracted youth from drug and alcohol abuse, homophobic abuse, self harm and suicide. Every effort must be made to counter the bigoted notions and stigma which persist in our society against same sex attracted youth. 

 

Equal age of consent reform at age 16 is easily and simply justified as being the basic mechanism which removes unwarranted discrimination against same sex attracted male youth, and which allows vital equal protection and support for all Queensland youth.

 

The other necessary law reform required to bring the treatment of Queensland youth into line with the rest of Australia is to raise the age of an adult under Criminal Law to 18. This reform is particularly supported by the state government funded Youth Advocacy Centre, who will tell you that the current law actively disadvantages 17 year olds. 

 

Here are contact details for representatives of organisations whom you may wish to consult regarding their support for equal age of consent reform:

   - Susan Booth, Commissioner, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland

      Ph: 1300 130 670

   - Paul Martin, General Manager, Queensland Association for Healthy Communities

      Ph: 3017 1791

   - Shelley Argent (OAM), President, Brisbane Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays

      Ph: 0409 363 335

   - Rodney Goodbun, representative, Action Reform Change Queensland

      Ph: (included in the original letter but not for publication)

                                                                                    

Previous responses from the office of the Attorney-General have re-stated that “the Government has no plans for reform at this time” and with no reasoning offered. I am praying that your administration sees the truth in the need for an honest commitment and an effective timeframe for action.

 

I welcome your response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

John Frame