May 25 2016 – 6:38AM
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.
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.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced the government intended on examining the issue during last year’s Estimates hearings. Almost a year later, Mr Dick’s legislation, expected to be introduced into parliament on Wednesday, will work to right a wrong almost three decades in the making.
Source : Brisbane Times