Queensland is very slowly moving to correct laws which have left the LGBTIQ out of step with their straight peers under the law Photo: James AlcockSlowly – very slowly – Queensland is working on correcting a raft of legislation which have given it the reputation as one of Australia’s worst jurisdictions for gay rights.
Nanjing Night Net

After decades of inaction, which saw the state’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer community ostracised and left at a disadvantage under the law, the last year has seen Queensland inch closer to legislative equality.

State-sanctioned civil partnership ceremonies were reinstated in April, after a conscience vote in the Queensland Parliament saw the vast majority of MPs support the legislation the Newman Government wound back in 2012.

Next is most likely to be the standardisation of age of consent laws, with Queensland still the only state to legislate different ages between vaginal and anal sex.

“Carnal knowledge” is set at 16, while anal sex, referred to as sodomy in legislation, is not legal until 18.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced the government was looking into the issue at last year’s estimates hearings. Since then, it has languished in bureaucracy, although an expert panel has been convened to examine the issue and any potential ramifications, with an announcement due “soon”.

The Queensland Law Reform Commission has been asked to look into the best way for the state to expunge the historical criminal convictions for those caught under Queensland’s morality laws, which saw homosexuality remain illegal until the Goss Government pushed through changes in 1990.

But those who had been charged and convicted under the historical laws – some 460 Queenslanders – had those convictions stand, impacting on travel and career choices. That review is due back in August, with Queensland one of the last states to address the issue.

Earlier this month, the government also announced it was taking one of the first steps to removing the gay panic defence from its books, one of the last Australian jurisdictions to do so.

The defence, covered under provocation, allows defendants accused of either deliberately or recklessly having killed some, blame the killing on a “loss of control” due to an unwanted “homosexual advance” and was used in Queensland as recently as 2010.

The Newman Government altered the law so a verbal advance alone was not enough for the homosexual advance defence to be used, but critics and civil rights advocates wanted it completely struck from legislation.

Tasmania, one of the last states to legalise homosexuality, became the first state to remove the defence in 2003.

As of 2016, just Queensland and South Australia still include it in legislation. Ms D’Ath said that would change soon.

But there is still some way to go before the law is equal in Queensland, with the sunshine state still lagging behind in adoption rights. Same-sex couples can foster children, but have been banned from adoption.

A review into the Adoption Act, set down by the Bligh Government in 2009, which failed to equalise the law, is currently underway.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.