The Queensland Government has appointed a panel to consider whether the age of consent for anal sex should be lowered from 18 to 16.
Queensland remains the only state in Australia to legislate differences between vaginal and anal sex, with the age of consent for “carnal knowledge” set at 16, while anal sex, still referred to as sodomy in the legislation, remains at 18.
“… under Queensland’s criminal code, the age of consent of most sexual activity is 16, with the exception of anal intercourse which is 18,” Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath told an estimates hearing.
“The government is aware of the claims of the LGBTI community in relation to this discrepancy, in particular their claims it is discriminatory.
“At the same time, the government recognises there are strong conflicting views held by Queenslanders about this issue.”
The government is also investigating ways it can expunge convictions for those convicted of consensual homosexual acts prior to it being legalised in 1989, a move already undertaken across most of the nation.
But Ms D’Ath said the legalities were “not straight forward”.
“The legal position is not straight forward on this matter as historically the same offence provision applied whether or not the act was consensual and between two adults or whether a child was involved,” she said.
“In order for this issue to be properly considered … this government intends to refer this question to the Queensland Law Review Commission for its consideration.”
Meanwhile, civil unions will be reintroduced, including the option for state-sanctioned ceremonies, which was removed by the LNP on coming to government in 2012.
The government will also amend the provocation defence within the State’s Criminal Code to “specifically exclude non-violent sexual advances from the ambit of the defence, other than in exceptional circumstances”, also known as the gay panic defence.
Ms D’Ath said she would continue to consult with the State’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community about the issues which impacted or excluded them.