*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
25th April 2001Email sent to new Queensland Attorney General Hon Rod Welford, asking for a public statement and action. Copy to Courier Mail "Letters".
To Queensland Attorney-General Hon Rod Welford MP
As the new Attorney-General you may not be aware that there is a severe situation in our state in regard to repeated public misinformation about age of consent and legal sexual activity.
The Queensland Goverment has never explained to the public exactly how to interpret our laws since the introduction, by the Goss Government in 1990, of the Sodomy Law, at the same time that consenting sexual acts between men were decriminalised.
No written official source of information has ever been available to the public or to any service providers.
Consequently the only way people have gained information is either by word-of-mouth or through sources which have provided highly conservative or blatantly wrong information, and invariably with the stated "disclaimer" that they will not be responsible for the consequences of such information.
The only official source of a declaration of such information which has any credibility and value, is the Queensland Attorney General Department itself.
Last year the Qld Government funded websiteGENERATE was suggested to me by the then Family Services Minister as an accurate, efficient source of information for youth. In fact that site held no information at all, merely directing me to website of the Youth Advocacy Centre, where the stored information was grossly wrong.
The Youth Advocacy Centre took three months to amend their site details, but they are still not an "official" source and they bear a "disclaimer".
Late last year, the Logan Youth Legal Service was funded by the Attorney General Department to produce a poster about the law and youth, which has since been distributed to all schools in Queensland. This poster contained critically insufficient and inaccurate information about age of consent.
Just yesterday I have found that the national youth radio broadcaster Triple J has been heavily promoting a websitewww.lawstuff.org.au which contains the exact wrong information that the Youth Advocacy Centre's site had presented 12 months earlier.
Until the Queensland Government takes a proactive stance and actually publicly states the simple fact of the law, this misinformation will continue to feed on itself and the problem will not be resolved.
Logan Youth Legal Servicesay that they are willing to work on an information pamphlet suitable for distribution through health, legal, counselling and other services, but they have no allocated funds with which to do this.
The Queensland Government is currently in an undeniably sound position to make the decision to act in the best interests of the public, without fear of a minority conservative electoral backlash.
I believe that this is a vital area for urgent action.
I am only asking that you more publicly declare what has been stated to me in writing by the previous Attorney-General, Hon Matt Foley, i.e. that the age of consent is 16 for all males or females, but that no one under the age of 18 may engage in anal intercourse. (See letters from your Office, reference: 2000/05033 Date: 5th September 2000 and 2000/2159 Date: 5th May 2000)
Until this is done a vast majority of the public will continue to believe that ALL men aged 16 to 18 who have sex with other men are behaving illegally. Those particular men will not only suffer the stigma of criminality, but will also be denied all of the Government funded sexual health education and services that they need in order to stay in good health, both in body and mind.
Please give your utmost consideration to taking advice on how best to effectively inform all of the relevant Government Departments on this issue, as well as how best to inform the Press.
In Western Australia the new Labor Government is about to declare an across the board age of consent of 16 for all genders and all sexual activity. This is exactly what was enacted by the Blair Labor Government in the United Kingdom last year.
What has created the whole confusion in Queensland was the 1990 Sodomy Law itself. The Sodomy Law has never been used to prosecute and yet it is the main barrier to effective information distribution in our state about age of consent and legal sexual activity. The simple reason is that the majority of the public, and certainly the Press, do not feel comfortable even mentioning the act the word refers to, and in Queensland Sodomy is defined as anal intercourse.
The simple and trouble-free way to acheive resolution is to have the redundant Sodomy Law repealed. It should never have been enacted in the first place, and it should not take a protracted and expensive battle in the courts to decide its relevance.
The choice is to either be brave and honest in making a clear public statement about age of consent and legal sexual activity, or to simply remove the Sodomy Law and thus solve the problem of having to further discuss any particular sexual activity.
I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this matter with yourself, or a representative, at any given time.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Ph: 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561
82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012.