This page is now a purely historical document of a successfully completed and hard fought 16 year campaign for equal age of consent reform in the state of Queensland, Australia.
On 15th September 2016 the Queensland Parliament voted 72 to2 in favour of making the age of consent equal at 16 (for any gender or sexual activity). The term “sodomy” was also removed from the 1899 (and still current, but much amended) Criminal Code.
The focus of the strategy which the Palaszczuk Labor Government chose in proposing this reform was the need to maximise the physical and mental health of youth.
I am retaining this page and all the linked items (correspondence, testimonies, legal references etc) so that any member of the public can see that the reform of the 1990 higher age of consent for “sodomy” (anal intercourse) was always absolutely necessary. I believe it also valuable to record that strong, determined efforts were consistently made by the LGBTI community, and its allies, to remove the discriminatory sodomy law in the interest of the health and welfare of youth, so they could ALL expect to receive equal benefit and equal protection of the law, without discrimination.
For details of the equal age of consent law which was passed on 15th September 2016 please go my page:
www.queerradio.org/AgeOfConsent.htm where you will find a link to the Health Bill in which it was enacted, the Hansard record of the 3 hour debate (with wonderful, empowering speeches from Palaszczuk Labor MP’s), the Media Release from the Health Minister and the audio statements which I recorded with the Honourable Health Minister Cameron Dick and with Queensland AIDS Council Executive Director Michael Scott).
With my deepest appreciation for all who spoke out or wrote in support of this reform. After 16 years I had no great confidence this would ever happen – but out of a deep sense of duty of care for youth I would never have given up.
With my very best regards,
- firstname.lastname@example.org ph: 07 3350 1562
A community resource of accurate information, opinion and references regarding the discriminatory “Sodomy Law” which is Section 208 of the Queensland Criminal Code. This law places Australia among the worst nations in the world for the criminalisation of homosexual activity.
** BREAKING NEWS:
Health Bill to equalise the age of consent at 16 in Queensland
(by removing the “Sodomy Law” – Section 208 of the 1899 Criminal Code)
likely to pass on 13th September 2016
On 13th September the Queensland Labor Palaszczuk Government will introduce for its Second Reading (and expected passing) the Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill - which will amend the Criminal Code to enact a truly equal age of consent at 16, and also remove the term "sodomy" from the Code. See item #6 under "Government Business - Orders For The Day" for 13 Sept '16 via http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/tableoffice/notice_paper/2016/160913_NP.pdf
Today the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee tabled their Report #38 in which they deal with the above reforms on pages 5 to 8 (as per http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/LACSC/2016/21-HealthOLAB16/21-rpt0381Sept2016.pdf ) and make the affirmative recommendation:
I will be in the Public Gallery on the 13th – and considering that this is the 5th item of the General Business which is scheduled to start at 2:30pm, break for dinner at 6, then resume at 7:30pm, I will plan for a late night. While hoping that this Bill passes swiftly with few debating against these particular sections, I am hoping that several Labor MP’s will take the opportunity to make honest and empowering statements for the Hansard record about the intrinsic value of equality under the law for all youth, regardless of their gender or sexuality.
In love and solidarity with the hundreds of people who have supported action for this reform campaign over the last 16 years – and in praise of the Palaszczuk Labor Government who have proven their commitment to their party’s principles and to the health and welfare of our state’s youth.
** Queensland Government calls for Submissions by 4pm Friday 22nd July 2016 to support equal age of consent at 16:
From there they link to a Guide to making a submission – saying it can be short or long, printed or by email but should be to the point and provide facts to back up your opinion.
In my page which you are now reading I have included a list of the main Reasons, and More Reasons with factual information and documentation which you may find useful and which you can cite in your submission.
On 25th May 2016:
From the Hansard record of Queensland Parliamentary Proceedings on 25th May 2016 Health Minister Cameron Dick delivered a commitment to enact equal age of consent reform “by the end of 2016” as a necessary strategy in protecting the sexual health of youth:-
“Sexual Health Initiative Hon. CR DICK (Woodridge—ALP) (Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services) (2.26 pm):
One of the fundamental tenets of our society is equality before the law. Queenslanders should not face adverse health outcomes because of laws based on prejudice. In Queensland, there has been a disparity between the ages of consent for sexual activity for many years. On 16 May this year I convened an expert panel to consider standardising these ages. The panel found that the inconsistent approach to the age of consent is a barrier to young people accessing sexual health services and health information.
As health minister, I find it unacceptable that some Queenslanders are banned from discussing safe, consensual sexual activity with health professionals—it is archaic and it is dangerous. By the end of 2016, the Palaszczuk Labor government will legislate to amend the Criminal Code, standardising the age of consent for all lawful sexual activity in Queensland. Making this change addresses a longstanding case of legislative discrimination against gay men. “
The impending announcement by the Health Minister was reported one the morning of 25th May 2016 in the Brisbane Times by Amy Remeikis:
Queensland to catch up on age of consent laws for anal sex
May 25 2016 - 6:38AM
· Amy Remeikis
After decades of inaction, the Palaszczuk Labor Government will introduce legislation to standardise the age of consent, bringing an end to one of the State's most discriminatory laws.
Under current legislation, the age of consent for vaginal sex is 16, but anal sex, which is still referred to as sodomy under the Criminal Code, remains illegal until a person is 18.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's government will bring in legislation to standardise the age of consent.
It has meant that teenagers, particularly young gay men, have had issues accessing safe sexual practice information, with practitioners forced to inform those seeking information on anal sex, about the illegality of the act.
Queensland is the only jurisdiction where the ages of consent are different and Health Minister Cameron Dick said following advice from an expert panel, it was the only course of action the government could take.
"By making this change, we are addressing the disparity between the age of consent for penetrative sex, which has resulted in adverse consequences for young people in this state," he said.
"It is clear that inconsistent age of consent laws act as a barrier to young people accessing safe sexual health information. It is time that Queensland modernised its framework."
Along with that modernisation comes a groundbreaking step, with the government releasing its draft Sexual Health Strategy, a first for Australia, which aims to provide better information regarding sexual health and contraceptive options, as well as having better medical services, with improved training for sexual health workers, Mr Dick said the strategy would "support and improve" the sexual health of Queenslanders and built on the work already being done in the sphere, as well as provide education on sexuality itself and improve service access.
The last time the State ventured into its citizen's bedrooms to change laws regarding consensual sexual conduct was in 1990, when the Goss Government passed legislation overturning homosexuality as an offence.
But the age of consent disparity remained, with a growing number of LGBTIQ advocates, health workers and educators lobbying successive governments to standardise the law, pointing to it as a continued discrimination against the State's gay community, and proving potentially dangerous for young people seeking information.
On 20th August 2015 news broke that the Palaszczuk Labor Government were funding an expert committee to report to Parliament regarding equal age of consent reform:
“Qld could make age of consent 16 for all
· AUGUST 20, 2015 1:52PM
QUEENSLAND'S government is considering making 16 years the legal age of consent for all sex acts, including anal sex.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Yvette D'Ath says an expert panel has been appointed to consider whether consent age for anal sex should be lowered from 18.
Queensland is the only state in Australia where the legal ages of consent for anal and vaginal sex are different.
"The government is aware of the claims of the LGBTI community in relation to this discrepancy, in particular their claims it is discriminatory," she told a budget estimates hearing on Wednesday.
"At the same time, the government recognises there are strong conflicting views held by Queenslanders about this issue."
Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker said the issue was not regularly raised with him in his suburban Brisbane electorate.
He also admitted that the Liberal National Party had not considered it until Ms D'Ath mentioned it on Thursday.
"It's the first time it has become a matter of public debate, as far as I'm aware," Mr Walker said.
This page and the associated links constitute a detailed resource regarding the need for Equity in Age Of Consent and Legal Sexual Activity for the State of Queensland, Australia. This campaign commenced in March 2000, calling for removal of our state's 1990 “Sodomy Law” which defines anal sex (often presumed to define “homosexual sex”) as being a criminal activity for any person aged under 18, as well as for their sexual partner. The Courts do accept “Consent” as a defense. The Sodomy Law section of the Criminal Code provides absolutely no added protection for youth, and in fact it acts solely to reinforce homophobic oppression of same sex attracted male youth by tainting them as being likely criminals, while also obstructing the delivery of vital safe sex education. All evidence is that youth engage in sexual activity regardless of the law, and that male youths engage in sex more frequently, and at a younger age, than females do. The aim of seeking a truly equal age of consent at 16 is to enable equal legal protection, societal support and community acceptance of all youth - regardless of their gender or their sexual orientation. Since 2003 Queensland has been the only region in Australia without as truly equal age of consent. The age of consent is truly equal at 16 in New South Wales, Victoria, West Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory – and at 17 in Tasmania and South Australia.
Please note that throughout this document, and in any linked files, the "Queensland AIDS Council" and “Queensland Association for Healthy Communities” are names for the exact same group. The community funded group was established in 1984 as “The Queensland AIDS Council” and still uses that name today. Between June 2006 and late 2013 they were known as the “Queensland Association for Healthy Communities”. The Queensland AIDS Council website URL is www.quac.org.au .
Click the following bookmarks to go to related details within this page:
- The Proposal for equal age of consent reform
- Main reasons for enacting a truly equal age of consent
- More reasons for enacting a truly equal age of consent
- Evidence in support of an equal age of consent
- Media coverage (newspapers, online articles and radio)
- The Sodomy Law worsened rather than deleted in October 2008
- A Brief Overview of the
- Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner supports reform
- DVD/CD-ROM information pack sent to all Members of Parliament in June 2007
- Premier Anna Bligh evades honest discussion on the Madonna King show ABC612 Oct/Nov 2007
- Parliamentary “E-Petition” July 2005 signed by 740
- Definition and
Prosecution of the
- Former Premier Peter Beattie’s full awareness that the Sodomy Law should never have been enacted
A statement of support for equal age of consent reform in Queensland
by Paul Martin, Principal Psychologist, Centre for Human Potential, Brisbane
Excerpt: “I am a psychologist with over 25 years experience specializing in mental health in LGBTI populations. I run a practice which sees many young same sex attracted people and am actively involved in PFLAG where I spend much time with parents of same sex attracted young people. I have worked with parents who have lost their child to suicide as a result of their conflicts around being same sex attracted and young people who were close to dying as a result of suicide attempts. These are extremely vulnerable segments of Australia’s young population. Clinical and research evidence strongly suggests that the Queensland Sodomy Law which sets a higher minimum age of 18 for anal intercourse not only exposes many of them (any person who engages in anal intercourse) and any of their sexual partners to criminal prosecution, but also causes psychological harm and increases risks of negative outcomes including suicide.”
Paul’s conclusion is that: “Whilst the Premier’s ‘It Gets Better’ video would have had a positive impact on the mental health of some same sex attracted youth, the impact may be largely negated by her refusal to change discrimination in the Sodomy Law. This law quite clearly causes psychological harm and it is imperative that our Premier acts urgently to change this for the sake of the most vulnerable youth in Queensland.”
(13 minute, 320kps stereo, 30mb mp3 of the original podcast used by kind permission) (aired 11:30am Brisbane Time, Friday 2nd December 2011).
Queensland’s age of consent is 16, however “sodomy” (a penis entering an anus, or the attempt to do so) involving any person aged under 18, is a criminal offence under the "sodomy law" (Section 208 of the Criminal Code 1899) and is punishable with up to 14 years imprisonment. Queensland is the only state or territory in Australia which does not have a truly equal age of consent (equal at 16 in West Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, and at 17 in Tasmania and South Australia.)
So why hasn’t equal age of consent reform been enacted yet? The main problem was that the Queensland Labor Government’s administration – i.e. their Premiers Beattie and Bligh and their last six Attorneys-General, from Matt Foley to Paul Lucas, all apparently cared more about the risk of losing a few votes than they cared about the health and well being of our state’s youth. Support for equality in laws related to age of consent had been written into Queensland Labor’s Policy Platform for many years – so there’s no legitimate excuse for their inaction. Strong resolutions of support for equal age of consent reform had been confirmed in 2010 and 2011 among many branches of the Queensland Labor Party, however the matter was not made an agenda item at their party’s 2011 State Conference.
Another big problem is the dire lack of organised community activism to push for reform. In every other state and territory LGBT groups and community legal services gave due priority to the issue of equal age of consent reform and they fought determinedly to make it happen. LGBT representative groups in Queensland tended to place this issue well down on their list of priorities and it has rarely even been mentioned in their media opportunities or press releases. The Northern Territory’s 2003 case for reform was actioned by the Darwin Community Legal Service, however our Caxton Street Legal Service have advised that they have neither the staff nor the finances to take any action. In June 2010 the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties officially declared its support for reform (emailed pdf letter) and that’s a very important fact to note.
The third problem is that mainstream media, except for local radio ABC612 and national youth network TripleJ, continue to treat this as a “non-issue”. The editor of Queensland’s sole statewide tabloid, The Courier Mail, has flatly refused to publish a feature - even when a very fine article was submitted by one of the paper’s own senior staff.
Photo by Mark Tedeschi QC
3rd February 2010 statement by Hon. Michael D. Kirby AC CMG:
Read: “Unequal Laws Affecting Homosexual Citizens In Queensland” (pdf file, 40k)
· Excerpt: “It is time that this last relic of criminal legal discrimination was removed in Queensland. It is a hangover from earlier, ignorant and prejudiced days. It exposes homosexual youth in Queensland to grave differential criminal penalties; potential harassment; and impedes effective strategies to respond in Queensland to the risks of HIV and AIDS in young people. All of the reasons given for the noteworthy decision of the Indian judges apply here. What India and the rest of Australia have already done, Queenslanders should now do by parliamentary action. It is a basic matter of equality of citizenship.”
Michael Kirby retired in February 2009 as a Justice of the High Court of Australia, where he served for 13 years. He is perhaps Australia’s most well-known and respected openly gay man and he has been a lifelong active advocate for true equity for all.
Visit Michael’s own site at: http://www.michaelkirby.com.au/
On 8th July 2010 John Frame was in the audience for the "In Conversation with Michael Kirby" event at State Library of Queensland and in Question Time asked Michael to comment on equal age of consent reform. The event was recorded and broadcast 15th July 2010 by Radio National. Hear that question and answer as a 2m 26s excerpt (2mb mp3).
In 2011 Michael Kirby wrote an article titled “THE SODOMY OFFENCE: ENGLAND’S LEAST
” for the inaugural issue of the “ASSOCIATION OF COMMONWEALTH CRIMINAL LAWYERS - JOURNAL OF COMMONWEALTH CRIMINAL LAW”. His abstract for that article is:
· “This article describes the influence of the British Empire on the intercontinental spread of the criminal offences involving adult, private, consensual same-sex activity. It describes the origins of the crimes in Judeo-Christian scriptures and early English common law and statutory offences. The nineteenth century moves for criminal law codification in Europe succeeded in abolishing such offence. They were not a feature of other European empires. However, although codification of criminal law failed in England, five template codes exported the sodomy and other offences to every land ruled by Britain. In 41 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, the offences remain in force. The article describes how they were (often reluctantly) repealed by legislation between 1967-97 in the older dominions. Repeal in newer Commonwealth countries has been slow or non-existent. The author describes new developments that give hope for progress, including the Naz Foundation Case in India (2009) and the recent moves in the United Nations and elsewhere to foster legislative and judicial removal of this unlovely legacy of Empire.”
8th October 2010 statement of support by Peter Tatchell - Australian-born, UK-based human rights and LGBT rights campaigner:
"In a democratic society, everyone should be equal before the law. There is no moral or medical justification for having a higher age of consent for anal intercourse. Even though some heterosexuals have anal sex, this unequal age of consent is, in essence, a de facto discrimination against gay and bisexual men. The best way to protect against HIV is education about safer sex, not arbitrary and discriminatory laws that predominantly penalise the gay and bisexual communities."
- Peter Tatchell
That Queensland's Criminal Code be amended to be in line with every other Australian State and Territory through the enactment of a truly equal age of consent to sexual activity, in order to enable equity in the protection and support of all youth regardless of their gender or their sexual orientation.
Reasons for Equal Age Of Consent Reform in
· Since 2003 Queensland has been the only Australian State or Territory which does not have a truly equal age of consent. The current law sets a minimum age of 16 for vaginal intercourse, but also sets an unjustified higher age of 18 for "sodomy" - which is defined by the Courts as carnal knowledge through anal intercourse. There is no supportable reason for anal intercourse to be listed as a separate offence to carnal knowledge.
· The current law stands in spite of the October 1990 "Report on Reforms In Laws Related To Homosexuality" by the all-party Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee , as Chaired by Peter Beattie, in which majority Recommendation 7 was 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.” The higher minimum age for anal intercourse exists only because of a “behind closed doors” decision by the Goss Labor Cabinet, as a token of consolation to its own handful of ultra conservative MPs. It was introduced in the November 1990 Bill which otherwise “decriminalised” sex between men. Hansard shows that not one word was spoken about this section in the passing of that Bill.
· Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth has declared that the discriminatory unequal age of consent is in clear contravention of Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “In 1994 in the case of Toonen V Australia, the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruled that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Riqhts prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The older age limit for lawful sodomy in section 208 of the Criminal Code therefore constitutes a discriminatory provision which breaches Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Other States and Territories have, since the decision in Toonen, repealed similar discriminatory and homophobic laws.”
· The current law acts to impede the most effective delivery of vital safe sex education to youth regarding anal intercourse - an activity which, without education for proper protection, may be high risk for HIV infection. On 25th May 2005 Melbourne’s La Trobe University (Dr Lynne Hillier et al) published an important report "Writing Themselves In Again", a national survey of 1,749 “same sex attracted youth”. The researchers found that the clear majority of same sex attracted youth are aware of their sexual attraction by age 16 (if not by 13); that they are sexually active at an earlier age than their heterosexual peers; that 70% had engaged in penetrative sexual intercourse and that only 75% of 15-18 year olds had used condoms in their last encounter. They also found that same sex attracted youth were 5 times as likely to suffer a sexually transmitted infection as would the average high school student – proving their higher risk of exposure to HIV and the drastic need to maximise effective safe sex education.
· The current law acts to reinforce homophobic oppression, bullying and abuse of same sex attracted youth, denying them deserved peer support and acceptance. All youth deserve the same level of legal protection and community support to have the best chance of living healthy, loving and productive lives as adult citizens.
· Equal age of consent reform is supported by various eminent community organisations including Brisbane Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Queensland AIDS Council and the federally funded Open Doors Youth Service which specialises in the support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. See the Mid-October 2005 letter to the Beattie Government which was instigated by PFLAG, QuAC and Open Doors and was signed by 20 organisations and groups.
· Queensland Labor’s official Policy Platform (Section 7.9 of the Justice and Governance Chapter) has, since at least 2008, been: "7.9 Labor will ensure uniformity of age among laws relating to the age of consent for lawful sexual activity;"
· As from 1st July 2009, Federal law amendments will define that “couples are couples” regardless of their gender in all areas except marriage. Federal agencies will tell young same sex male couples that they are equal with other couples, while Queensland law continues to define them as criminals.
The 1990 PCJC Report on Reforms in laws Related to Homosexuality is at:
The Australian Law Reform Commission Report “Family Violence - A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114)” (2010) is at:
The La Trobe University 2005 Research Report "Writing Themselves In Again: The 2nd national report on the sexual health & well-being of same sex attracted young people in Australia" pdf file is at:
and that file is found via the list at:
October 2008: Qld's "Sodomy Law" was made worse, rather than being deleted, by Attorney General Kerry Shine in October 2008
An October 2008 amendment to the Criminal Code Sections 208 and 209 had actually worsened the effect of the "sodomy law". Section 209 - attempting to engage in sodomy - was deleted and the wording was incorporated into Section 208, which meant that the penalty for attempting sodomy had been doubled from a maximum of 7 to 14 years.
Attorney-General Kerry Shine actually reviewed the Sodomy Law element of the Criminal Code and yet decided to make it worse, when he was personally well aware that the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner had recommended 3 years earlier that it be deleted altogether and she had reminded him, in person, just a year earlier that she was definitely serious about the need for that reform.
The Criminal Code and Other Acts Amendment Act 2008 Act No. 55 of 2008 (assented to 23rd October 2008):
The current version of the Qld Criminal Code is at:
DVD-Video and CD-ROM package “6 Statements of Support for Equal Age Of Consent Reform in Queensland” posted to all MP’s June 2007:
Click the individual photos
below to choose either YouTube
video or transcripts of each of these statements of
strong support for equal age of consent reform in
Since early 2000, when I started to actively pursue this reform, the Premier and various Attorneys-General have all either refused or failed to meet with a representative group in order to discuss the matter. So I decided to bring the people to Parliament via the medium of DVD-Video (with transcripts and audio on an accompanying CD-ROM).
I produced the project between February and May 2007 and during June the DVD-Video and CD-ROM package entitled “6 Statements of Support for Equal Age Of Consent Reform in Queensland” was sent to each individual Queensland Member of Parliament. The DVD-Video offers six statements from highly reputable and relevant persons who all support urgent equal age of consent reform, and whose combined statements form a compelling argument.
The CD-ROM contains audio versions of the statements, transcripts and also selected relevant documents (including Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth’s 15th July 2005 letter to Attorney-General Rod Welford).
Premier Peter Beattie’s written response was that he is continuing to leave the decision on this matter with the Attorney-General (despite Mr. Beattie’s personal 1990 statement that he supported an equal age of consent).
The Attorney-General’s 22nd June 2007 response merely re-affirmed the Beattie Government’s ongoing refusal to make any commitment to this reform (while offering no justification for this decision).
The June 2007 edition of
(click the image for full text plus link to a full size jpg of the article)
In my home
Even though the law applies to "any person" (both men and women) it is clear that the intent of the 1990 law was to discourage young men from doing male to male sex. It was passed in the same Bill which otherwise "decriminalised" sex between men. The lawmakers deliberately used the term "decriminalised" in the legislation to make it very clear that the administration was not inferring any approval of homosexual activity just because they happened to be changing the law. The Goss Labor government of the time had the clear numbers to force any law through, but the Sodomy Law was included in order to placate its own gay-hating conservative Members. All debate in Parliament was about whether homosexual law reform should happen at all. In fact the Sodomy Law has never been debated in Parliament, nor has it ever been officially explained to the public.
I got involved in seeking sodomy law reform when, on 19th February 2000, our only state-wide newspaper (The Courier Mail) published a full page article headed ">Reasonable Age - Will lowering the age of consent for homosexual sex open the floodgates to paedophilia?" The article's author clearly thought the answer was "YES!". She dangerously misrepresented the truth of the law by suggesting that ALL male to male sex was illegal under 18 years. I phoned and wrote to the paper and they refused to print a correction or retraction. When I spoke with other people about this I was shocked to find that about 80% (whether straight or gay) did not understand the law.
Since 2000 I've had a constant stream of correspondence and phone calls with our state government's Premier and several Attorneys-General, I've organised rallies and meetings, written articles and done radio interviews. 740 citizens joined a Parliamentary E-petition and our Anti-Discrimination Commissioner even wrote stating that the law should be reformed. All this has been to no avail. The Premier simply refuses to budge on reform - even though former Premier Peter Beattie actually Chaired the 1990 all-party Parliamentary Committee which Reported on homosexual law reform. In that Report Mr Beattie declared his personal support for the majority Recommendation to enact an equal age of consent.
The Premier and the Attorney-General persist in offering, without qualification, the following inadequate statement to justify their ongoing inaction on reform: “The issue of the age of consent is a vexed one and one in which there are deeply held and opposing views.”
Both the Premier and the Attorney-General have refused to meet with a representative community group to discuss the need for an equal age of consent – and they continue to ignore the 15th July 2005 official recommendation for reform by the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.
Queensland Government Parliamentary E-Petition (Number 421-05) for Criminal Code Law Reform went online on 1st February 2005, sponsored by Simon Finn, MP for Yeerongpilly, with the wording:
TO: The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland
citizens draws to the attention of the House the current Queensland Criminal
Code discriminates against 16
was open only to citizens of
On 22nd March 2006 an Official Ministerial Response was posted by Queensland Attorney General Linda Lavarch. The Attorney General’s entirely unsatisfactory response acknowledges the negative aspects of the current law, but she advises that the Government will not enact reform because “The issue of the age of consent is a vexed one and one in which there are deeply held and opposing views.” It seems clear from this statement that the Beattie Government cared more about the risk of losing votes than it cared about the health and well-being of youth.
In preceding weeks the Courier Mail had reported that Peter Beattie was actively negotiating with the conservative religious Family First Party to secure preference deals for the upcoming state election (hoping to split the conservative vote). Successive polls had shown the Nationals to be almost certain to win at the 2006 election (NB: Labor retained power – at least until the 2012 election). Nationals Leader Lawrence Springborg has clearly stated that they will not support an equal age of consent.
On 15th July 2005 Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Susan Booth wrote to the Attorney-General to confirm an opinion which she had previously expressed face-to-face with Mr Welford: that Queensland’s Sodomy Law “discriminates on the basis of sexuality. These provisions of the Criminal Code are inconsistent with the object of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 to promote equality for everyone and protect them from unfair discrimination, and the premise upon which the legislation was enacted, namely, that everyone should be equal before and under the law and have the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination.”
The Commissioner concludes by stating that “It is now imperative that
Queensland’s age of consent is 16, but anal intercourse (“sodomy”) involving any person aged under 18 is a criminal offence under the "sodomy law" (Section 208 of the Criminal Code 1899) - punishable with up to 14 years imprisonment.
Definition of “sodomy”: "Under
How is the Sodomy Law prosecuted in
for the judiciary are contained in the QUEENSLAND SUPREME AND DISTRICT COURTS BENCHBOOK on pages 148, 149 and
150. It is important to note
Mr Beattie was Chairman of the Parliamentary Criminal Justice Committee (PCJC) which conducted community consultation and delivered a detailed Report to Parliament in October 1990. In the PCJC Report he clearly declares his personal support for the Committee’s first 8 recommendations, of which “RECOMMENDATION 7” is “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.” There is no official record of the reason why, but this recommendation was ignored in the Bill which was introduced to Parliament in November 1990 - a Bill which included a higher age for anal intercourse - a Sodomy Law.
Premier Beattie also knew that the Sodomy Law directly placed 16 and 17 year olds at increased risk of HIV by impeding safe sex information. His PCJC Report states on page 49:
"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."
The Queensland Government continues to advise that it does not have any plans to change the existing legislation.
27th Feb 2009 A recent Queensland Pride Magazine online article inspired ABC Toowong journalist Kaitlyn Sawrey to record an interview at my home for use as a discussion topic on Triple-J's "The Hack" program. That same night they ran the topic as the show's "Shake Up" panel discussion - here's a link to an mp3 of that segment 11 minutes 38 seconds (64kps mono mp3, 5mb) I'm extremely glad that Tommy Murphy (stageplay writer/director and screenwriter of Tim Conigrave's "Holding The Man") was on the panel. Tommy makes very good sense - making up for the regressive comments by conservative christian gay journo John Heard.
2007 edition of
(click the image for the full text plus link to a full size jpg of the article)
Nov 2006 Courier Mail
article by feature writer Jane Fynes-Clinton. In this concise yet accurately detailed
feature, especially written for World AIDS Day, Jane connects many of the more
important issues related to Queensland’s unequal age of consent – including
that the current law places youth at increased risk of HIV infection. She personalises the story with bookended references to Keith
Phillips, an openly gay year 10 student at Alexandra Hills State High in
20th June 2005 9:20am, ABC 612 Local Radio: Steve Austin interviewed John Frame for 8 minutes (64kps mono mp3, 3mb) regarding the need for Sodomy Law Reform - including mention of the Parliamentary E-petition and the fact that the Northern Territory Labor Government had been returned in the preceding weekend's election with a greatly increased majority (and they had reformed their Sodomy Law in the most recent term of office). The ABC received no calls at all in regard to the interview - a sign that the thinking public is very comfortable with the need for reform.
10th March 2005 “ON LINE opinion” forum article by Rose Cooper on age of consent: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=3094 . John Frame’s comments were posted under the tag EqualRightsActivist:
“Rose raises many good
points - regardless of any nit-picking in regard to her grammar. It is
especially important that she points out that there should be no difference in
the protection and support afforded to youth of any gender (male/female/intergender) at the age of consent. Anyone with an honest
and open mind and with even a smidgen of life experience must know that same
gender attraction is
The term "homosexual lifestyle" is as uselessly definitive as "religious fanatic" - but one certainly makes a choice when embracing extremes of fashion or displaying wanton bigotry.
The legal age of consent should be the benchmark for all youth to have access to all information and support that they might reasonably need in order to protect their sexual health as well as their emotional health. All youth should have equal support and protection at the same age. In
Attorney General Rod Welford will tell you that the Sodomy Law is not discriminatory, because it applies to all persons, whether they are male or female – but the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commissioner says that it is equally wrong that the law discriminates against 16 and 17 year olds. Unfortunately she cannot force reform of State laws and the Beattie Government seems content to let youth remain at risk while they maintain a vote-winning veneer of Bjelke-Petersen style conservatism.”
27th Feb 2005 Brisbane’s monthly LGBT street press Queensland Pride publishes an article in their March edition reporting on the 14th February “Love In For Love Equality”. For full article text click here.
21st Feb 2005 The Los Angeles based, half-hour weekly, internationally distributed lesbian & gay radio magazine This Way Out included news coverage of the 14th February 2005 “Love In for Love Equality” and also included a 6 minute edit of representative voxpops recorded on that day by John Frame. For full details of this This Way Out program click here.
16th Feb 2005 The Queer Radio program on 4ZZZ Brisbane airs over 30 minutes of voxpops recorded at the 14th February Love In For Love Equality – we heard from representatives of the Queensland AIDS Council (Paul Martin, Brisbane Parents Family & Friends of Lesbians And Gays, University of Queensland Sexuality Collective, University of Southern Queensland queer student group “USQ-Plus”, Brisbane LGBT youth service “Open Doors” and Toowoomba’s LGBT social group “The Silver Wheat Society”. HEAR all nine “voxpop” recordings as 128kps stereo mp3’s.
Feb 2005 – approx 5:45pm The ABC’s national youth radio network Triple-J's "The
Hack" program aired a 6 minute interview
(128kps stereo mp3, 6mb) on the
need for reform of the Queensland Sodomy Law. Steve Cannane, Sydney-based presenter of the “Hack” program, spoke
by phone earlier in the day with John Frame from the ABC’s
14th Feb 2005 CLICK HERE for PRESS RELEASE re success of Love In For Love Equality (13th Feb ’05)
2003 A fine article
titled “Sodomy” by Rodney Polkinghorne was
printed in the September 2003 “Queer Edition” of Semper Floreat
– the monthly magazine published by the University of Queensland Student Union.
The article tells the accurate story of
29th August 1997 a Courier Mail feature article on the unequal age of consent in Queensland titled “Age Barrier”. Writer Matthew Fynes-Clinton sought comments from several people – but only one of them was sensible – i.e. Terry O'Gorman of Qld Council for Civil Liberties, who makes perfect logical sense in favour of a truly equal age of consent at 16. However there are also very dodgy comments from LNP Attorney-General Denver Beanland, as well as from a right wing conservative paediatrician and from an RBH adolescent psychiatrist. I'm disappointed to see the quotes from former (Goss Labor) Attorney-General Dean Wells in which he defends the validity of the Sodomy Law - even if those quotes happen to be from November 1990 – because his "1995 Revised Criminal Code" would have set a truly equal age of consent at 16. I say "would have" because this article was published at the time when the Borbidge LNP held power - and one of their first acts in 1996 was to repeal the 1995 Revised Criminal Code just before it was to officially take effect. The article was prompted by the New South Wales Wood Royal Commission recommending an equal age of consent at 16 in that state - but they did not enact it until December 2003. The October 1990 Queensland PCJC Report on Laws Relating To Homosexuality had also recommended a truly equal age of consent at 16 - which was ignored by Goss Labor. Hansard records of the November 1990 "decriminalisation" Bill debate prove that there was not one word spoken in Parliament either for or against the Bill's proposed higher minimum age for anal intercourse. Queensland has already taken more than three times longer than New South Wales to follow an official recommendation to allow youth equality at the same reasonable age of 16. An image of the Courier Mail article in 150dpi resolution is on my site as a 1mb jpg at:http://www.queerradio.org/CM_19970828_p13_Age_Barrier_MatthewFynesClinton150dpi.jpg and a version with proofed OCR text as a 500k pdf file is at:http://www.queerradio.org/CM_19970828_p13_Age_Barrier_MatthewFynesClinton_OCR.pdf
YouTube video of John Frame as a
guest speaker of the Queensland Association
for Healthy Communities at their 4th June 2008 Pride Campaign launch at
to the buttons below are: Details of the current