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In 1899 Challenging Someone To A Duel, Having An Abortion, And Being Gay Were All Crimes. One Still Is.

Raping your wife wasn't a crime then, though.

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Abortion has been illegal in Queensland since it was written into the state's original Criminal Code in 1899 under "offences against morality".

Dan Peled / AAP

In Queensland today a termination is only lawful if it is to "prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health".

Next week politicians will vote on a bill introduced by the state's government to decriminalise abortion and move the procedure from criminal to health legislation. If passed, abortion will be available up to 22 weeks gestation, after which the patient would require two separate doctors to approve the procedure.

Many parts of Queensland's Criminal Code have been repealed over the past 119 years.

Homosexuality was a crime in Queensland until 1991 and people could be charged with offences ranging from indecency, to unnatural offences and sodomy.

Criminal Code as it was published in 1899.
Queensland Government

Criminal Code as it was published in 1899.

"Challenge to fight a duel" was a crime and punishable by three years in jail until 2008.

The same year an offence in which any person "seducing message from a pirate" was liable to imprisonment for life was also updated.

Under the original Section 80 of the Criminal Code, "any person who committed robbery on the high seas, other than as an act of war and under the authority of some foreign prince, or state" could spend their life behind bars. Piracy is still an offence but the language has been updated and doesn't mention foreign princes anymore.

Former Queensland premier Sir Samuel Walker Griffith who drafted the Criminal Code.

Former Queensland premier Sir Samuel Walker Griffith who drafted the Criminal Code.

"Counterfeiting copper coin", "defamation of foreign princes", "negligently injuring telegraphs", "endangering steamships by tampering with machinery", "unlawfully dredging for oysters" and "offering shipwrecked goods for sale" were all standalone offences at the time.

A lot of things weren't yet crimes in the state in 1899 and Queensland was the last state to criminalise marital rape, in 1989.

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at

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