*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
25th July 2003 Letter to Premier of Queensland, Hon Peter Beattie, in response to the 23rd July 2003 letter from his office. I thank him for his response and point out clearly that the letter was in error in suggesting that I am “advocating a reduction in the age of consent for homosexual sex” – which is not the case at all.
I state again that Queensland’s age of consent is already equal, at 16 years, for all heterosexuals and homosexuals, but that I have been lobbying specifically for removal of the Sodomy Law, so that all consenting sexual activities are equally legal for all consenting adults, regardless of their individual sexuality. This is the only way that gay and bisexual 16 & 17 year old men can hope to be treated equally, in every other respect, to their heterosexual peers.
When our most eminent public servants can, even inadvertently, seem to equate “sodomy” with being “homosexual sex”, then it is little surprise that the vast majority of the general public wrongly believe all sex between men to be illegal under 18 years – with the resultant denial of services, lack of peer support and increased risk of suicide for those men.
Mr. Beattie had advised that no further reforms of existing laws would occur during the current Parliament, so I also ask for a declared commitment to enacting this reform as a priority, following the upcoming state elections (which are due by mid-2004).
To: Attn The Premier of Queensland Hon. Mr. Peter Beattie M.P.
P0 Box 185 Brisbane Albert Street
Queensland 4002 Australia
Date: 25th July 2003
From: John Frame
82 Main Avenue
Wavell Heights 4012
Your Reference: 33243/MB/L&J Policy
Dear Mr. Beattie,
I very much appreciate your reply on 23rd July to my belated invitation to a youth forum on issues surrounding the inequities of current Queensland law as it affects consenting sexual activity. I appreciate that you have referred that letter to the Attorney-General.
There is one important aspect of that letter however which I need to clarify with you. This is in regard to twice using the expression that I am “advocating a reduction in the age of consent for homosexual sex”.
This is not correct, because the age of consent for homosexuals to consent to sex has been equal to that of heterosexuals since the decriminalisation of sex between men was enacted in November 1990. I want to be certain that you appreciate that I am advocating for gay and bisexual youth to enjoy equal societal support, in all aspects, to their heterosexual peers – and this is regardless of whether they are sexually active or not.
What I am specifically seeking is the removal of the “Sodomy Law” (Sections 208 & 209 of the Criminal Code 1899) – a law which applies technically to all women and men, regardless of their sexuality – but which, in practice, actively discriminates against 16 & 17 year old men who may be gay or bisexual (regardless of whether those men are sexually active or not).
The “Sodomy Law” law places a stigma of potential illegality on all men who may be presumed to be likely to engage in anal intercourse. Most Queenslanders are in error in presuming that anal intercourse (sodomy) is a definitively “homosexual” activity. The act is common to some heterosexuals as well as to some homosexuals, but anal intercourse does not equate to “homosexual sex”.
I know, from your statements as Chairman in the1990 Parliamentary Committee Report on Homosexual Law Reform, that you are personally aware of the potential for harmful stigmatisation resulting from setting a higher age for any specific sexual activity. You clearly recommended against that aspect which was, however, incorporated in the Bill presented by Dean Wells, which then became law.
I assume then that the problem in the wording of the 23rd July letter may be due to a lack of understanding by a member of your staff. Just recently the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth made a similar error when she was quoted (in Queensland Pride Magazine #178) as saying that “we have no sodomy laws in Queensland”. When informed and empowered persons of authority find it difficult to express the current law correctly, then I believe that is proof positive that the law needs to be changed.
I accept that reform of the existing law may not be practical before the 2004 election, but I ask for a commitment that this reform will have priority following that election. Any delay prolongs the lack of support and services currently affecting 16 & 17 year old gay and bisexual youth.
I believe that the Queensland public is progressive and mature enough to accept that this reform is both just and necessary - even if many don’t appreciate that it is thirteen years overdue.
I look forward to hearing from you, and thank you again for giving this matter your continued consideration.