Call to get rid of the unequal age of consent in Queensland
Monday, June 15, 2015
Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson has called for an end to the unequal age of consent in Queensland. Essentially anal sex is OK from the age of 18, whereas the age of consent otherwise is the age of 16. The punishment is up to 14 years imprisonment.
Commissioner Wilson stated in his landmark report about State sanctioned LGBTI discrimination in Australia:
“Concern was raised throughout the consultation process that while the sodomylaw does not directly targetyoung people on the basis of their sexualorientation, in practice thelaw discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Participants observed that unequalage of consent based on different sexual activity had disproportionate and adverse impacts on gay men inQueensland.
A particular fear was raised regarding the safety and wellbeing of young same-sexattracted men underthe age of18. One medical practitioner outlined in the consultations that they had heard of other health workers who discouraged gay males underthe age of 18 from disclosing theirsexual activity if it involvedanal sex becausethe age of consent laws would require the medical practitioners to treat theirbehaviour as
a criminal matter.The consequence of the law is that young gay men were less likelyto be able to then get propersexual health advice.
A number of submissions and meeting participants observed that the unequal age of consentlaw for sodomy prevented access to appropriate and accurate information and support on mental health and sexual health for young gay men between 16 and 18 years of age.
These observations were of significant importance in consideration of the higher risk rate for young gay men to contract HIV in Queensland. In 2011, Queensland reportedthe highest rise nationally in new notifications of HIV in this target group.“
Part of the policy of the new Labor government in Queensland is to ensure an equal age of consent. Hopefully this change will be enacted soon.