*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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27th  January 2006 Letter to Lawrence Springborg, the Leader of The Opposition in Queensland. I write in response to Mr Springborg’s 24th January 2006 letter in which he had incorrectly claimed that the 1990 PCJC Report on Homosexual Law Reform had recommended a Sodomy Law. I point out the section of the Report which clearly recommended AGAINST a Sodomy Law, and I also give him eight significant circumstances which have arisen since the Sodomy Law was enacted in 1990 - including the fact that in 1996 The National Party repealed a 1995 Goss Government Revised Criminal Code which would have enacted an equal age of consent, and instead they passed a 1997 Bill to revise the 1899 Criminal Code with ambiguous terminology (“anal  intercourse” became “sodomy”), an elevated minimum age (up from 17 to 18) and doubled penalties (up from 7 to 14 years gaol). 


 

 

To:      Mr Lawrence Springborg, Leader of The Opposition,

            Leader of The Nationals and Member of Parliament for Southern Downs 

 

            Parliament House, Alice Street, Brisbane 4000

 

From: John Frame

            82 Main Avenue, Wavell Heights 4012

            Ph: 07 3350 1562 / 0409 501 561

 

Date:   27th January 2006

 

(This is a written, slightly corrected version of my email which was sent earlier today)

 

Dear Lawrence,

 

I thank you for your letter dated 24th January 2006 which I received today. That letter is in response to my 19th January 2006 email which I had sent to you (and to all Queensland Members of Parliament) in regard to the outstanding reform of Sections 208 and 209 of the Queensland Criminal Code, in order to achieve a truly equal age of consent. Those two Sections criminalise the sexual activity of anal intercourse for any person aged under 18, even though the age of consent for all other sexual activities is 16.

 

I respectfully advise that you are in error in your letter's statement that "In 1990 an all-party parliamentary committee, the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee, investigated and rejected the very proposal being put forward by you." The opposite is true.

 

It is a verifiable fact that the PCJC Report specifically recommended that, not only should sex between men be decriminalised, but that there should also be a truly equal age of consent, with no higher age set for any sexual activity. This was RECOMMENDATION 7 (see pages 48 and 49 of the Report - a copy of the Government's original pdf file is stored at http://www.queerradio.org/PCJC_law_reform_report_October_1990.pdf ).

 

RECOMMENDATION 7 states:

“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.”

 

You further state that "no circumstance has arisen since that time to justify any reconsideration of this position". This again is incorrect and I hope you will acknowledge the following key circumstances which have arisen since 1990:

 

1. Law reform has been enacted in every other Australian State and Territory in order to ensure a truly equal age of consent. The most recent reform occurred in New South Wales in November 2003. Earlier in that same year in the Northern Territory, Members from both side of the House combined to vote in favour of successful reform

 

2. Official support for reform in Queensland through written advice on 15th July 2005 to the Attorney-General and Premier from the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner  http://www.queerradio.org/AOC150705_ADCQ.htm

 

3. Popular support for reform through 740 signatories of the Queensland Parliamentary E-Petition Number 421-05 http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/EPetitions_QLD/cgi-bin/Petitions.cgi?PetNum=421&PetType=1

 

4. Written support for reform by over twenty Community Groups and Service and Health Organisations.  http://www.queerradio.org/AOC_QuAC-Open_Doors-PFLAG_Mid_Oct_2005.htm

 

5. In 1995 the Goss Government passed a Revised Criminal Code which effectively reformed the Sodomy Law by stating only that all sex under the age of 16 was illegal. (See http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/ACTS/1995/95AC037.pdf) However in 1996 just a month before that Revised Criminal Code was to come into effect, the National Party led Coalition briefly regained control of Parliament and their first act was to repeal the Goss Government's Revised Criminal Code 1995 (which would otherwise have ensured a truly equal age of consent). The Borbidge Government then enacted a drastic revision of the 1899 Criminal Code http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/ACTS/1997/97AC003.pdf - including

 

            (1) changing the terminology under Sections 208 and 209 from "anal intercourse" to "sodomy";

 

            (2) raising the minimum age from 17 to 18; and

 

            (3) doubling the maximum penalties from 7 years to 14 years. There is no record in Hansard of any debate occurring on these revised Sections.

 

6. The National Children's & Youth Law Centre called for Sodomy Law Reform in their May 2005 Non-Government Report on the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights Of the Child In Australia http://www.ncylc.org.au/croc/images/CROC_Report_for_Web.pdf 

 

7. Research published by La Trobe University in Melbourne on the health and well being of same sex attracted youth proves that same sex attracted youth, those most affected by the Sodomy Law, are denied peer support and acceptance, and as a result are at greatly increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, self-harm through drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. (See http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/pdfs/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf )

 

8. The greatly increased risk of HIV/AIDS. The 1990 PCJC Report to which you referred, was clear in identifying that criminalising a particular sexuality or sexual activity did nothing to curb the practice of that activity, but merely acted to impede vital safe sex education. The rate of HIV infection increased in Queensland by 40% from 2001 to 2004, proving that this reason for reform of the Sodomy Law is more valid than ever. 

 

Please refer to page 49 of the 1990 PCJC Report http://www.queerradio.org/PCJC_law_reform_report_October_1990.pdf  which states:

 

"The Committee was of the view that the professional advice put before it concludes the following:-­

 

    1. Sexual orientation is most likely determined early and while the age is not determinable it is most likely before puberty.

 

    2. Once sexual orientation is determined it is very difficult if not impossible to change.

 

    3. 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.

 

    4. The evidence seems to suggest that homosexual orientation is not a matter over which homosexuals have any control in the same way heterosexuals have no control over their sexual orientation."

 

I would be happy to discuss any of these references with you and I welcome your response. 

 

In late 2002 I witnessed from the Public Gallery as Parliament discussed the Discrimination Law Amendment Bill. I was impressed to witness you acknowledge the value of your friends who happen to be gay and state that they should not face undue discrimination. Therefore I am hopeful that you will agree that 16 and 17 year old Queensland youth all need, and deserve, equal protection and support under the law.

 

There is no doubt that the current law does great harm - it is not benign in any respect.

 

This is a reform that all Parties should be proud and confident in supporting because it is purely in the interest of protecting the health and welfare of youth.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

John

 

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

 

----"There is no substitute for equality"----