16-year-olds on the Gold Coast will soon be able to have consensual anal sex without fearing legal consequences, after the state government this week passed laws to update their Criminal Code.
It will bring Queensland’s age of consent laws into line with other states around the country once the law is given “royal assent” by our Governor, the Hon. Paul de Jersey AC – a process which should occur in the coming weeks.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the change was all about improving the sexual health of Queenslanders.
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“We want the focus to be squarely on sexual health, not on stigmatising relationships,” he said.
The change was suggested following a meeting of health experts in May this year, where they said changing the Criminal Code and standardising the age of consent would improve sexual health outcomes.
Minister Dick said the expert panel believed the current laws meant younger Queenslanders were witholding information about their sexual history from their doctor.
“This may be because they fear possible legal consequences for themselves or their partner,” he said.
“Withholding this information could have serious implications for a young person’s medical treatment, particularly as unprotected anal intercourse is the highest-risk behaviour for transmission of HIV.”
Executive Director of the Queensland AIDS Council Michael Scott agreed, saying it was “imperative to remove any barrier to access of healthcare for all people”, and that the fact that Queensland’s age of consent laws were different to other states had been “a barrier to equal access to healthcare.”
“We are concerned that with the current inequality of age of consent, young people who are sexually active are reluctant to access sexual health services including HIV and other STI testing and preventative health education for fear of being prosecuted,” he said.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story didn’t report that the change to this law was related to consensual anal sex. The article and headline has since been updated to clarify this matter.