*Age Of Consent & Legal Sexual Activity for the State of
2005 Community Services
Group letter to the Beattie Government calling for urgent reform of the
Over twenty highly respected health and welfare community groups and organizations co-signed this letter which had been initiated by the (1) Open Doors Youth Service, (2) Brisbane Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays, and (3) peak HIV health body the Queensland AIDS Council. Troy Hakala of the Qld AIDS Council advises that the letter was posted to the five respective Ministers in mid-October.
To The Honourable Premier of
To The Honourable Minister for Health
To The Honourable Minister for Education
To The Honourable Minister for Child Safety
To The Honourable Minister for Justice and Attorney-General
We write to urge the Government to equalise the age of consent for lawful sexual activity for all young people 16 years and over.
At present sexual activity is lawful from the age of 16, except for anal intercourse which is illegal until the age of 18. While affecting all young people, this law is disproportional in its negative effect on gay and bisexual young men,
We believe that an unequal age of consent stigmatises young gay and bisexual men and prevents them coming forward for HIV and sexual health information and services. New HIV notifications have increased by 40% in the past 3 years including among younger gay/bisexual men.
We believe that an unequal age of consent creates confusion among professionals working with young people in relation to what information and support they can provide to young people about sexual activity. Many people also wrongly assume that all sexual activity between men is illegal until 18 years.
An unequal age of consent does not protect young people, in fact it makes them more vulnerable to stigmatisation, low self worth, suicide and HIV transmission. Around 50% of young people have had sex before they turn 17 and national research shows that same-sex attracted young people are, on average, sexually active earlier than their heterosexual peers. In a survey of 15-17 year old same-sex attracted men who access Open Doors, 94% of these men report that they have had sex. We need laws that support young people to make informed choices about sex, not to criminalise them for those choices.
This is about equalising the law for consenting sexual activity. It will in no way weaken the existing laws against sex with under age children (i.e. 16), sex with people with learning disabilities, or sex against a person's will.
Nor will equalising the age of consent 'promote' homosexuality. A person's sexual orientation is formed by a combination of biological and environmental factors at a young age. Sexual orientation is not a choice and is not something that can be altered by law.
It does not make sense that a heterosexual couple can legally have a baby at 17 years of age, but could be punished by up to 14 years gaol for having anal sex. The current law makes any young person under 18 who has anal sex a criminal.
There is no room in our State for laws that discriminate directly or indirectly against certain classes of people.
We call on you to equalise the age of consent for the benefit of all young people. Yours
Open Doors Youth Service Inc.
Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG)