*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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24th October 2005 Emailed “letter” to the editor of the Courier Mail in response to their feature article “AIDS battle not yet over” (Jane Fynes-Clinton, CM 24 October 2005, P9). The article addressed rising rates of HIV infection in Queensland. I point out that a significant issue not mentioned in the article is that youth are placed at unnecessary risk of HIV infection as a direct consequence of the Queensland Sodomy Law.


 

----- Original Message -----

From: John Frame

To: cmletters@qnp.newsltd.com.au

Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 10:20 PM

Subject: AIDS battle is tougher for youth under QLD law

 

To the Editor of the Courier Mail,

 

Your feature article "AIDS battle not over yet" (Jane Fynes-Clinton, CM 24th October 2005) unfortunately misses the serious point that Queensland youth are particularly at risk of HIV, because our state's Criminal Law effectively impedes vital and relevant safe sex education for 16 and 17 year olds in regard to the potentially high risk sexual activity of anal intercourse.

 

In 1990 as a direct consequence of the Fitzgerald Enquiry a Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee chaired by Peter Beattie recommended the "decriminalisation" of sex between men and also specifically recommended "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"  (Recommendation 7). The Committee supported this recommendation by stating that "The law regardless of whether it makes homosexual sex between consenting males in private legal or not has little impact or no impact on the practice of homosexuality in private. Its impact is in relation to whether safe sex is practiced and whether the community is susceptible to particular AIDS education programs." 

 

In November 1990, despite the PCJC Committee's expertly informed recommendation, a higher age of consent for anal intercourse (a "Sodomy Law") was enacted. The Sodomy Law fixes a minimum of age of consent of 18 years as against 16 for vaginal intercourse, with the outrageous penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. It is this severe "criminalisation" of anal intercourse for 16 and 17 year olds which denies some of them due protection and support. Naturally it is gay and bisexual male youth who suffer in particular, however anal intercourse is also a common heterosexual activity - and the fact is that all youth deserve and should expect equal protection under the law.

 

On 15th July 2005 Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth wrote to the Attorney-General Rod Welford advising that Queensland’s Sodomy Law: “discriminates on the basis of sexuality. These provisions of the Criminal Code are inconsistent with the object of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to promote equality for everyone and protect them from unfair discrimination, and the premise upon which the legislation was enacted, namely, that everyone should be equal before and under the law and have the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.”

The Commissioner concludes by stating that “It is now imperative that Queensland remove the age difference for lawful heterosexual and homosexual sex between consenting sexual partners. These legislative changes will ensure that Queensland law is consistent with the International Covenant and local discrimination law, it will reflect contemporary realities of society, and assist in addressing the increase in HIV infections.”

No statistics can conclude exactly how many youth may have become HIV positive as a direct result of the Queensland Sodomy Law - but there is no denying the potential risk. It would be an eternal tragedy if even one of our state's youth is forced to live with HIV and to suffer from AIDS, when all that was needed was some well overdue legal reform and a Government with the moral fortitude to enact it.

All of the above information is verifiable as true and correct.

I welcome any enquiry and will happily supply any details. (as per www.queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent.htm )

Yours sincerely,

John Frame

presenter of Queer Radio www.queerradio.org on community radio 4ZZZ fm102.1 Brisbane, Australia
Ph: (home) 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561
Post:
82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012, QLD, Australia.