AGE OF CONSENT IN QUEENSLAND AMENDED
TO BE EQUAL AT FOR ALL AT 16:
On Thursday 15th September 2016 the Government of Queensland, in a
demonstration of true bipartisanship in support of the state’s youth, voted 72
to 2 in favour of the “Health
and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016”. The 72 “ayes” comprised all the
Labor MP’s, the 2 Independents, and a majority of the LNP. The 2 “no” votes
were from the Katter Party MP’s. The Bill
included an amendment to the 1899 Criminal Code to enact a truly equal age of
consent at 16 (for any gender or sexual activity), and to replace the
derogatory term “Sodomy“ with the clinically accurate term “anal intercourse”
in the section of the Criminal Code which deals with Carnal Knowledge.
was introduced by the Queensland Health Minister Hon. Cameron Dick of the
minority Labor Party Government under the leadership of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Bill focused on the need to care for the sexual health of youth by removing a
legal barrier to open and honest discussion of sexual activity with GP's and
sexual health services. The Bill
drew bipartisan support, with a majority of LNP MP's also voting n favour, and only the two Katter
Party MP's voting "no". Many Labor MP's chose to make strong, passionate
and informed statements in support of youth through an equal age of consent at
16. Read their speeches in Hansard (pages 3589-3618) via https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2016/2016_09_15_DAILY.pdf
was a great and historic day in Queensland. Life is going on today,
very much as yesterday, but for many thousands of current and future youth
their health, well-being and freedom to love and be loved is suddenly enhanced
Left to right: Deputy Speaker Hon. Dianne Farmer
MP, John Frame, Health Minister Hon. Cameron Dick, Sean Leader (Rainbow Labor),
Richard Burke, Melissa Fox, Craig Atkinson (QuAC), Deputy
Premier, Minister for infrastructure, Local Government and Planning and
Minister for Trade and Investment Hon Jackie Trad MP,
Linus Power MP, Michael Scott (QuAC), Parker Forbes (QuAC), Joseph Kelly MP, Attorney-General Hon Yvette D’Ath MP. (Photo by
the Health Minister’s Personal Assistant Laura Gowdie)
This action fulfilled a Queensland Labor
election promise made in early 2015.
Hear recordings by John Frame (for This
Way Out ) of brief interviews at Parliament House on the day:
- Health Minister Cameron Dick (3m 04s) (128kps mono 3mb):
- Michael Scott, Executive
Director of the Qld AIDS Council (2m 08s) (128kps mono 2mb):
Media Release 15th
September 2016 from the Office of the Honourable
Health Minister Cameron Dick:
Queensland’s age of consent laws standardised
The age of consent for all lawful sexual activity in Queensland
will be standardised to 16 years after the Queensland
Parliament voted today to remove a longstanding source of discrimination in
Queensland’s Criminal Code.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said
this change would support the health of all young Queenslanders, regardless of
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to improving the sexual
health of Queenslanders, and we want the focus to be squarely on sexual health,
not on stigmatising relationships,” he said.
A panel of health experts met in May 2016 to consider a change
to the Criminal Code 1899 and found that standardising
the age of consent would improve sexual health outcomes.
“The expert panel considered that the current laws may lead to
people feeling compelled to withhold information about their sexual history
from health practitioners.
“This may be because they fear possible legal consequences for
themselves or their partner.
“Withholding this information could have serious implications
for a young person’s medical treatment, particularly as unprotected anal
intercourse is the highest-risk behaviour for
transmission of HIV.”
Michael Scott, Executive Director of the Queensland AIDS
Council, welcomed the reform.
“It is imperative to remove any barrier to access of healthcare
for all people. An unequal age of consent has been a barrier to equal access to
“We are concerned that with the current inequality of age of
consent, young people who are sexually active are reluctant to access sexual
health services including HIV and other STI testing and preventative health
education for fear of being prosecuted.”
These amendments bring Queensland into line with other
Australian jurisdictions in relation to standardising
the age of consent.
Minister Dick said, “In May this year I released the draft
Queensland Sexual Health Strategy 2016–2021 for public consultation.”
“The Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 passed by
the Parliament supports an action in that draft by removing the existing disparity
between the age of consent for differing forms of sexual intercourse.
“Our government aims to support healthy and safe sexual
experiences while providing Queenslanders with the knowledge required to
maintain optimal sexual and reproductive health.
amendments passed by the parliament, and the proposed Queensland Sexual Health
Strategy, will both help to deliver these outcomes.”
Past age of consent history in Queensland (very briefly):
When sex between males was “decriminalised”
by Goss Labor in November 1990 they ignored a clear recommendation of their
Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee that the age of consent should, in the
interest of equality and anti-discrimination, be made equal at 16 regardless of
the gender of the person or the kind of sexual activity. Instead Goss Labor
enacted a discriminatory rewording of Sections 208 and 209 of the 1899 Criminal
Code, which made anal intercourse a crime for “any person not an adult” (i.e.
aged under 17). To their credit they tried to fix it in their 1995 Revised
Criminal Code – which included a truly equal age of consent at 16, but that Act
was repealed by the Borbidge Nationals dominated
Government in 1996. The Nationals reinstated and amended the 1899 Code,
including changing the terminology of Sections 208 & 209 from “anal
intercourse” to the more sordid sounding and less specific “sodomy”, and they
raised the minimum age to 18. The “sodomy law” then remained in force until
September 2016 – despite at least 16 years of organised
community lobbying of the Beattie and Bligh Labor, and Newman LNP, Governments.
For a detailed archived history of the campaign
which achieved an equal age of consent at 16 go to: http://queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent_as_at_14thSept2016.htm
The Palaszczuk Labor Government
deserves huge praise for ensuring that all Queensland youth may now expect
equal benefit and equal protection under the law, without discrimination.
Written and posted 16th September
2016 by John Frame firstname.lastname@example.org , Wavell Heights,
My sincere thanks to all who contributed to the
16 year campaign for this reform – including the 740
signatories of a Parliamentary e-Petition, 238 signatories of a Change.org
petition, the Queensland AIDS Council, Shelley Argent OAM and Parents and
Friends of Lesbians And Gays, Rod Patterson (as “Tamara Tonite”), Phil Carswell, Sean Leader, the Queensland
Labor Party, Rainbow Labor, Young Labor, Peter Ridgley, Scott Grimmett, Iain Clacher, Felix Kellett, Paul
Martin (QuAC), Paul Martin (psychologist), Tim Klein,
Rodney Goodbun (Action Reform Change Qld), the Silver Wheat Society, Open Doors LGBT Youth
Service, Dr Wendell Rosevear OAM, Dr Neil Simmons, Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG,
Peter Tatchell, Family Planning Queensland, Susan Booth and the
Anti-Discrimination Commission of Queensland, Queensland Pride Magazine, Qnews Magazine, the Star Observer, ABC612 Steve Austin, Triple
J’s Steve Cannane (“The Hack”), ABC “The Drum”, Jane Fynes-Clinton (Courier Mail), the Brisbane Times
(especially Amy Remeikis).
Last updated 16th September 2016