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Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill 2003

Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill 2003

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 10/2003 by Talina Drabsch
​This paper updates Briefing Paper 21/97 The Age of Consent by Rachel Simpson and Honor Figgis and focuses on the debate surrounding the issue of an equal age of consent. New South Wales is currently the only state in Australia to discriminate on the basis of sexuality in relation to the age of consent (Section 2: p 1). The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) currently establishes the age of consent for heterosexual sexual intercourse at 16 years. However, homosexual sexual intercourse is prohibited until both parties have attained the age of 18 (Section 3: p 2). The age of consent for a sample of countries is also presented, indicating a range of ages from 12 to 18 (Section 4: p 3).

Section 5 presents a summary of the issues surrounding a uniform age of consent, including the arguments for and against any reform (p 4).

The Australian Study of Health and Relationships is the largest study regarding sexual and reproductive health to have ever been conducted in Australia. Section 6 includes some of its findings in relation to the first homosexual experience of male respondents who identified as having had a homosexual experience at some point in their lives (p 8).

On 7 May 2003, the Hon Bob Debus MP tabled the Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences) Bill 2003 . The Bill seeks to provide for the equal treatment of sexual offences irrespective of the gender of the offender and victim. One of the results of the proposed reforms to the Crimes Act 1900 would be an equal age of consent for all persons of 16 years. A feature of the Bill that separates it from earlier private members’ bills of a similar nature is its focus on the seriousness of sexual offences committed against children. (Section 7: p 10).