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Encyclopedia > Ages of consent in Australia and Oceania

The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Australia and Oceania. The specific activity engaged in or the gender of its participants can also be affected by the law. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age refers to an age at or above which an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for example homosexual relations or close in age exceptions may exist and are noted when relevant.

Contents

Australia

Australia is a Federation of States and Territories. Australia's Constitution protects and retains certain residual powers for the States and so the Australian Federal Government (the Commonwealth) has constitutional limitations on what issues it can legislate. This means that each State has its own laws regarding AOC. However, it is worth mentioning that a 1997 Federal Government and the United Nations Human Rights Committee ruling caused each State to repeal any differences in homo/heterosexual AOC. This is due to International Affairs being a power of the Commonwealth.


Federal laws (laws that apply to all Australians)

It is an offence for an Australian Citizen, Resident or Body Corporate {s50AD} while outside of Australia to have sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 16 {s50BA} or to induce a child under 16 to have sexual intercourse {s50BB}, or be somehow involved in a similar sexual act {s50BC}&{s50BD}


Sex between consenting adults (18 or over) in private, regardless of gender or sexual orientation can not be outlawed under section 4 {s4} of the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act 1994.


Australian Capital Territory

It is an offence in the Australian Capital Territory to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 {s55(2)}. However the law does permit as a defence if brought to court, an age difference of 2 years for those older than 10 years {s55(3b)}. Further it is an offence to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the care of the offender[citation needed] (Doctor, Guardian, teacher etc). Capital Canberra Government Constitutional monarchy Administrator none Chief Minister Jon Stanhope (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 2  - Senate seats 2 Gross Territorial Product (2006)  - Product ($m)  $19,167 (6th)  - Product per capita  $57,303/person (1st) Population (End of November 2006)  - Population  333,667 (7th)  - Density  137. ...


New South Wales

It is an offence in New South Wales to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 {s66C} or attempt such an offence {s66d}. Further it is an offence to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the care of the offender {s73} (Guardian, teacher etc).


Norfolk Island

It is an offence under the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1993 of Norfolk Island for a person to engage in sexual intercourse or an act of indecency with a person under the age of 16 {Sections 93, 93E(2) and 93K(2)}.


Northern Territory

It is an offence in the Northern Territory to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16 {s127} or attempt such an offence {s131}. Further it is an offence to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the care of the offender {s128} (Guardian, teacher etc). Capital Darwin Government Const. ...


Queensland

It is an offence in Queensland to have carnal knowledge with a person under the age of 16 {s215}. Note that in Queensland “carnal knowledge” does not include “sodomy”. Sodomy (or in this case, anal sex) is not permitted with any person under the age of 18, regardless of gender or what position is taken by which individual [1] and {s208}. Capital Brisbane Government Constitutional monarchy Governor Quentin Bryce Premier Peter Beattie (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 28  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $158,506 (3rd)  - Product per capita  $40,170/person (6th) Population (End of September 2006)  - Population  4,070,400 (3rd)  - Density  2. ... DVD cover Carnal Knowledge is a 1971 American drama film. ... François Elluin, Sodomites provoking the wrath of God, from Le pot pourri de Loth (1781). ... Roman men having anal sex. ...


South Australia

It is an offence in South Australia to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 {s49(3)}. However it is a defence if both parties were 16 at the time of the offence {s49(4)} or if both parties are married to one another {s49(8)}. Further it is an offence to engage in sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the care of the offender {s49(5)} (Guardian, teacher etc). Capital Adelaide Government Constitutional monarchy Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson Premier Mike Rann (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 11  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $59,819 (5th)  - Product per capita  $38,838/person (7th) Population (End of September 2006)  - Population  1,558,200 (5th)  - Density  1. ...


Tasmania

It is an offence in Tasmania to have sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 17 {s13-124}. However it is a defence if no anal sex occurred and the younger person was of or above 12 years and the older was not more than 3 years their senior or, if no anal sex occurred and the younger person was of or above 15 years and the older was not more than 5 years their senior [2] and {s13-124(3)}. Capital Hobart Government Constitutional monarchy Governor William Cox Premier Paul Lennon (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 5  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $16,114 (7th)  - Product per capita  $33,243/person (8th) Population (End of September 2006)  - Population  489,600 (6th)  - Density  7. ... Roman men having anal sex. ...


Victoria

It is an offence in Victoria to take part in sexual penetration with a person under the age of 16 {s45(1)}. However it is a defence if the younger party was aged 10 years or older and the defendant was not more than 2 years older than the younger party {s45(4)(b)}. It is a separate offence for a person to take part in sexual penetration with a person under the age of 18 who is under the care of the defendant {s48} (guardian, teacher etc). Capital Melbourne Government Constitutional monarchy Governor David de Kretser Premier Steve Bracks (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 37  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $222,022 (2nd)  - Product per capita  $44,443/person (5th) Population (End of September 2006)  - Population  5,110,500 (2nd)  - Density  22. ...


Western Australia

It is an offence in Western Australia to sexually penetrate a person under the age of 16 {s321}. Further it is an offence to sexually penetrate a person under the age of 18 if that person is under the care of the offender {s322} (Guardian, teacher etc). Capital Perth Government Constitutional monarchy Governor Ken Michael Premier Alan Carpenter (ALP) Federal representation  - House seats 15  - Senate seats 12 Gross State Product (2004-05)  - Product ($m)  $100,900 (4th)  - Product per capita  $50,355/person (3rd) Population (December 2006)  - Population  2,050,900 (4th)  - Density  0. ...


Cook Islands

It is an offence to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 years, under sections 146 and 147 of the Cook Islands Crimes Act (1969). If the victim consented and is aged 12 years or more, it is a defence if the defendant was younger than the girl, or if he was under 21 years of age and "had reasonable cause to believe, and did believe" that the girl was aged 16 years or older. (These defenses do not apply if consent was gained fraudulently.)


There is no minimum age of consent for boys, although sodomy is illegal at any age (under section 155 of the Crimes Act) and it is illegal for men aged 21 years or more to commit indecent acts on boys under 15 years of age (under section 153 of the Crimes Act). Similarly, it is illegal for women aged 21 years or more to commit indecent acts on girls under 15 years of age (under section 152 of the Crimes Act).


Fiji

It is an offence in Fiji to have carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16 years, under sections 155 and 156 of the Penal Code of Fiji (1978). If the victim is aged 13 years or more, it is a defence if the defendant "had reasonable cause to believe and did in fact believe" that the girl was aged 16 years or older.


Recent developments

On the 11 July 2006 the Fijian High Court Commission ruled, "No more arrests for private consensual same-sex sexual conduct". From 1997 the constitution of Fiji forbade discrimination based on "sexual orientation". From the 11 July 2006 sections relating to sodomy of the Penal Code have been invalidated but have not been repealed from the Penal Code statutes (Provisions).[1] July 11 is the 192nd day (193rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 173 days remaining. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... 1997 (MCMXCVII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Sexual orientation refers to the direction of an individuals sexuality, normally conceived of as falling into several significant categories based around the sex or gender that the individual finds attractive. ... July 11 is the 192nd day (193rd in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 173 days remaining. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Criminal Code. ...


Prior to the High Commission's ruling the following offences were in force:

Unnatural offences
175. Any person who-
(a) has carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature; or
(b) has carnal knowledge of an animal; or
(c) permits a male person to have carnal knowledge of him or her against the order of nature,
is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years, with or without corporal punishment.
Attempts to commit unnatural offences and indecent assaults
176. Any person who attempts to commit any of the offences specified in section 175, or who is guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or of any indecent assault upon any male person, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for seven years, with or without corporal punishment.
Indecent practices between males
177. Any male person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another male person, or procures another male person to commit any act of gross indecency with him, or attempts to procure the commission of any such act by any male person with himself or with another male person, whether in public or private, is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for five years, with or without corporal punishment. -- Fijian Penal Code

New Zealand

It is an offence in New Zealand to have a sexual connection with a young person under the age of 16 years {NZ Crimes Act (1961) Part 7 Section 134}. It is a defence if due diligence had been undertaken by the defendant to ascertain the victim's age, had reasonable grounds to believe the victim was aged 16 or over and consent was given {Part 7 Section 134A}. Further it is an offence for a person to have a sexual connection with a young person under the age of 18 if the defendant is in a guardianship role (parent, step-parent, foster parent, guardian, uncle, aunt or other members of extended family, whanau or other power or authority or responsibility for care or upbringing {Part 7 Sections 131 & 131A} Whanau is a Maori language word for extended family. ...


Although Age of consent laws in New Zealand (as with most other western countries) are currently severe, consensual relationships between adults and young teens are usually not prosecuted unless the parent or child complain about it. Similarly, although a teen 14 years or older can be prosecuted for a consensual relationship with a teen under 16 (both parties if both are 14 years or older), this is extremely rare. Even with a complaint, it is still up to police discretion and if the age difference is small it is rarely prosecuted, with family group conferences being the more likely option.[2] There was an attempt to formalise this under law in 2004, however this was abandoned after a public outcry. It is interesting to note that before 2005, there was not a law in New Zealand prohibiting any form of sexual relationship between adult women and male minors.[3]


Papua New Guinea

It is an offence in Papua New Guinea to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 16 years, under Sections 213 and 216 of the Criminal Code (1974) of Papua New Guinea. If the victim is aged 12 years or more, it is a defence if the defendant "believed, on reasonable grounds" that the girl was aged 16 years or older. It is a crime for any person to indecently deal with a boy aged under 14 years (under section 211 of the Criminal Code), and boys aged under 17 years are not deemed able to consent to acts by another male that, but for their consent, would be indecent assaults (under section 243 of the Criminal Code). Also having or allowing carnal knowledge "against the order of nature" is illegal at any age, as are acts of "gross indecency" between males, under sections 210 and 212 of the Criminal Code.


Vanuatu

It is an offence for a man to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 15 and for all homosexual relations the age of consent is 18 CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE OF VANUATU {s97}{s98}{s99}.


Western Samoa

It is an offence to have sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 years, under sections 51 and 53 of Samoa's Crimes Ordinance (1961). If the victim consented and is aged 12 years or more, it is a defence if the defendant was younger than the girl, or if he was under 21 years of age and "had reasonable cause to believe, and did believe" that the girl was aged 16 years or older. These defenses do not apply if consent was gained fraudulently.


There is no minimum age of consent for boys, although sodomy is illegal at any age (under section 58E of the Crimes Ordinance) and it is illegal for men aged 21 years or more to commit indecent acts on boys under 16 years of age (under section 58C of the Crimes Ordinance). Similarly, it is illegal for women aged 21 years or more to commit indecent acts on girls under 16 years of age (under section 58B of the Crimes Ordinance).


Tonga

It is an offence to have carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of 12 years, under sections 120 of Tonga's Criminal Offences Act, and it is no defence to believe she consented (section 122). A girl under 16 years of age cannot legally consent to acts that would constitute indecent assault, but for her consent (section 124). Indecent assault on any child under the age of 12 years is an offence, and consent of the victim is no defense (section 125). Sodomy is illegal at any age under section 136 of the Act.


See also

The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Africa. ... The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Asia. ... The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Europe. ... The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across North America. ... The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across South America. ...

References

  1. ^ Fijian High Commission confirms; no more arrests for consensual gay sex in Fiji.
  2. ^ Teens face tough new underage sex penalty.
  3. ^ PM condemns decriminalising 12-year-old sex.

 
 

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