Anal sex age of consent drops in Queensland
QUEENSLAND has standardised the age of consent for all sex acts to 16 years old.
The State Parliament on Thursday evening voted to reduce the legal age of consent for anal sex from 18 to 16.
The word sodomy will also be replaced with "anal intercourse" in the state's Criminal Code to help reduce stigma around gay and bisexual men.
Under the old laws, people under 18 who admitted to having anal intercourse risked being reported to police.
The fear of criminal charges often meant young people would not seek out health services and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
The rule change brings the state in line with other Australian jurisdictions.
Queensland AIDS Council executive director Michael Scott said changing the age of consent removed any "barriers" for young people seeking health treatment.
"An unequal age of consent has been a barrier to equal access to healthcare," he said.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said the change, recommended by a panel of health experts, was long overdue.
"The expert panel considered that the current laws may lead to people feeling compelled to withhold information about their sexual history from health practitioners," Mr Dick said.
"This may be because they fear possible legal consequences for themselves or their partner.
"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."
- ARM NEWSDESK