Queensland has become the last Australian state to introduce an equal age of consent for anal sex.
The Queensland parliament voted to amend the law on Thursday night, with all Labor and independent MPs, along with 28 Liberal National Party politicians, voting in favour.
Some LNP members abstained, while two representatives from Katter's Australian Party opposed the measures.
This reform, which amends the legal age for anal sex to 16, brings Queensland into line with all other Australian states and territories.
It comes in response to an expert panel earlier this year, which found the inconsistent age of consent had “adverse consequences” for young people, and made it harder to access information on safe sex.
"It is, above all, an amendment aimed at improving sexual health and it should be treated as such," health minister Cameron Dick told the parliament.
"Too often the conversation about the age of consent has focused on morality and, worse still, on criminality."
The bill also replaces the word "sodomy" in the Criminal Code with "anal intercourse" to reduce the stigma associated with anal sex.
In her speech supporting the changes, Labor minister Leanne Enoch told of running into a former student who had sought sexual health information and been told what he was doing was illegal.
"He did not look himself. At that time he was 17, and six months into a
university course. I took him to lunch. I said, ‘What’s going on for you? I haven’t seen you for a while. You look a little upset'," she said.
The student had just been to a GP for a sexual health check, and was informed that the sex he had had was illegal and he could face criminal charges.
"He was not told, ‘How can I help you? What is the right path to ensure that you are safe?’ Rather, he was told, ‘What you are doing is illegal and you could be prosecuted’," Enoch said.
"One can imagine, for a 17-year-old at university who was holding down a part-time job and living away from his family, how much of a shock that kind of response
from a trusted GP would be."
Federal Queensland MP George Christensen implied in a Facebook post that the legislation would lead to older gay men "preying on" young men.
"I don't ever recall having a constituent advocate for the anal sex age of consent to be lowered nor have I ever seen a petition or protest on this issue," he said.
"Do we really want 16 year old boys being preyed upon and groomed by much older men for what is now legal sex?"
In every other Australian state and territory, the age of consent is equal for all lawful sexual acts.
It is 16 in NSW, Western Australian, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, and 17 in South Australia and Tasmania.
Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Lane Sainty at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.