Monday, 15 June 2015

Call to get rid of the unequal age of consent in Queensland

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 sodomy law does not directly target young people on the basis of their sexual orientation, in practice the law discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation. Participants observed that unequal age of consent based on different sexual activity had disproportionate and adverse impacts on gay men in Queensland.
A particular fear was raised regarding the safety and wellbeing of young same-sex attracted men under the age of18. One medical practitioner outlined in the consultations that they had heard of other health workers who discouraged gay males under the age of 18 from disclosing their sexual activity if it involved anal sex because the age of consent laws would require the medical practitioners to treat their behaviour as
a criminal matter. The consequence of the law is that young gay men were less likely to be able to then get proper sexual health advice.
A number of submissions and meeting participants observed that the unequal age of consent law 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 reported the 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.

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