The Queensland government has finally moved to equalise the ages of consent in Queensland to correct an “archaic” and decades-old discrepancy in the legislation affecting gay teenagers.
Under the current law, the age of consent for vaginal sex is 16 but anal sex, still referred to as “sodomy” in the Criminal Code, is illegal until a person is 18.
Queensland health minister Cameron Dick told state parliament on Wednesday the Palaszczuk government will legislate to amend the Criminal Code before the end of the year to standardise the age of consent for all lawful sexual activity.
He said he convened a panel of health experts on May 16 to consider the issue.
“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,” he said.
“As health minister, I find it unacceptable that some Queenslanders are banned from discussing safe, consensual sexual activity with health professionals. It’s archaic and it’s dangerous.
“Making this change addresses a long-standing case of legislative discrimination against gay men.
“One of the fundamental tenets of our society is equality before the law.”
In all other Australian states and territories, the age of consent is equal for all lawful sexual acts. It’s 16 in NSW, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory, and 17 in South Australia and Tasmania.