Rodney Goodbun

Representative for “Action Reform Change Queensland


Action Reform Change Queensland (ARCQ) is an equal rights lobby group focused on achieving the amendment of legal inequities which are related to sexuality and gender identity.


Recorded 1st March 2007 at Rodney’s Brisbane home.


Transcript of “Equal Age Of Consent Reform DVD” video


Interview and transcript by John Frame, Ph: (07) 3350 1562


A statement of support for equal age of consent reform in Queensland.


Go Back to the Equal Age Of Consent in Queensland homepage

Rodney Goodbun:
My name is Rod Goodbun and I’m involved with a group called Action Reform Change Queensland which is a group of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people – and supporters that work to advocate for equality before the law in Queensland in relation to queer matters.



John Frame:
What does your group – what do you understand about the existence of an unequal age of consent in Queensland and its effect? What would the group’s attitude be to this?  



Rodney Goodbun:
Well we know that the law in relation to anal sex is different to the law in relation to vaginal sex. With vaginal intercourse, it’s legal to do that at age 16. So people undertaking anal intercourse at age 17 are criminal under the Queensland law.


We can no policy basis for this. No health basis for this. The only basis one might claim for this different law is a moral one. If it’s a moral argument, then it’s a moral argument around sexuality that really doesn’t stand up to tests on what community values are these days in relation to these issues.


I’ve worked in sexual health for about 18 years now, in a number of capacities – in a voluntary capacity in HIV prevention, as a researcher, as a adult trainer and educator. And I’ve found there’s a really interesting development in the way people think about sexuality over the last 18 years or so.


We’ve become much easier at talking about sexual acts,  at thinking about the ways in which sexuality should or should not be regulated, but this area of legislation where anal intercourse is still considered to be, under Queensland law, somehow an extreme activity that needs to be regulated, is out of step with the way in which we think about the rest of the range of sexual behaviours.


It’s interesting that, even though there’s been a lot of information in the public domain about sexuality, about issues like HIV/AIDS, and now hepatitis, there’s still a level of discomfort in talking about the nitty-gritty of sexuality. The language around it is uncomfortable for many people. I think it’s important that we are able to conduct a public debate, to have a public discourse – an informed one, where we’re able to talk about vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse, oral intercourse, and other forms of love and expression, without being squeamish about it. That’s something I think that our organisation, along with HIV/AIDS organizations and Family Planning organisations have been working towards for many, many years.



John Frame:
Action Reform Change Queensland is working towards equality for same sex attracted individuals and couples in a range of areas, but does the organisation feel that it’s particularly important that people be treated with equity at all ages – rather than just as over-18 adults?



Rodney Goodbun:
Well if we ask the counter-question “Why should someone be treated differently?” you would have to mount an argument on the basis of health reasons, or reasons related to psychosocial issues, as to why that should be the case. There isn’t any evidence – there simply isn’t any evidence to suggest that one form of sexual expression, i.e. anal intercourse, is more harmful or risky than any other form of sexual intercourse, i.e. vaginal intercourse. There are ways in which both activities can be risky or harmful to people engaged in them. If sex is happening through coercion, if there’s risk of sexual transmission of infections, then obviously that activity can be harmful. But there are ways and means in which society is working to minimise those risks – through education, through promotion of condom use, through promotion of resilience and self-advocacy, and self-esteem and confidence building so that people know what consensual sex is about and how they should ask for it. There are ways in which we’re learning, as a society, to deal with these issues.


Having a differential age of consent for vaginal sex and anal intercourse is really not part of the suite these days. It’s not part of a helpful range of strategies to promote confident young sexually expressive people who can ask for and know what they want.



John Frame:
British comedian Ricky Gervais – I’ve heard him, as part of his stand-up routine, make the comment that, in Britain, when there was campaigning for an equal age of consent, he didn’t see youth marching down the street demanding an equal age of consent. And this is what some politicians will be saying regarding Queensland’s unequal age of consent – that they would expect that youth would be demanding it. Do you think that it’s fair that it should be expected that youth, who are perhaps the most disadvantaged people because of this law, should be out demanding that it be reformed?



Rodney Goodbun:  


Well, I would think if you were to poll young people you’d get a very clear view of what they would like from the lawmakers in relation to their expression and their right to choose. We tend not to ask young people. That’s the question that we could be posing – “What if we asked young people?” or “Why don’t we ask young people what these laws should be about and how they should be constructed?” Young people will advocate when they have the opportunity, but our society – and our political process – tends to lock them out.


So it’s not surprising that you don’t see people marching down the street. In addition to that, these issues are issues where, particularly for young gay or lesbian people – or for people questioning themselves about their sexuality - it’s often not the kind of place where they’re going to undertake that questioning behaviour.


If they’re wondering about their sexual identity, you’re not likely to see them campaigning in front of Parliament House – you’re likely to see them worrying in their bedrooms about what their future is, or perhaps ringing a counselling line. Political expression, political advocacy is something that does tend to come from people who are self-confident and mature and asserting their rights. So no, it’s not surprising that you don’t see young people marching down the street, but I think we should be asking them what they’d like – and I’d be very surprised if they didn’t say they’d like the right to choose.




(end of interview)