Last updated 5 September

Sexual relationships

In Queensland, the age of consent for sexual behaviour is 16 years, except for consent for anal sex, which is 18 years.

A person who has sexual intercourse with a child under 16 years commits the offence of carnal knowledge of a child under 16 years. The child’s consent is no defence. It is a defence to the charge if the accused can prove that they believed, on reasonable grounds, that the child was of or above the age of 16 years, provided that the child is actually over the age of 12 years (s 215 Criminal Code Act 1899 (Qld) (Criminal Code)).

Consensual anal intercourse between adults (18 years or over) is not an offence in Queensland, but it is an offence with a person who is not an adult. The child’s consent is no defence. It is a defence to the charge if the accused can prove that they believed, on reasonable grounds, that the child was of or above the age of 16 years, provided that the child is actually over the age of 12 years (s 208 Criminal Code).

It is an offence for a person to indecently deal with a boy or girl under the age of 16 years (s 210 Criminal Code). This would include indecent sexual acts.

It is an offence to sexually assault a person of any age.

Contraception and prescribed puberty inhibitors

Legislation regulates the sale, exhibition and advertising of contraceptives in Queensland.

There is no age limit that applies to the access to contraception such as condoms, vaginal ring, diaphragm, spermicides or getting medical advice without parental consent. Oral contraceptives and intrauterine contraceptive devices are only available from a doctor or from a chemist on presentation of a prescription from a doctor.

Puberty inhibitors or hormone blockers (Stage 1 hormone treatment) are medicines administered by a healthcare provider through injections or an implant that goes under the skin. Puberty inhibitors are used to postpone the stages of puberty in children. This is prescribed medication that has been used on children since the 1980s for slowing down puberty. This medication is prescribed so the child can reach the physical milestones associated with puberty at a steady rate and which are appropriate for their age. Once the medication is stopped, children begin puberty again as normal (more information). All doctors will require the child attend supportive therapeutic counselling before and whilst the child is prescribed puberty inhibitors.

Some doctors will refuse to give contraceptive advice or prescribe oral contraceptives to unmarried minors without parental consent. Some doctors may refuse to give puberty inhibitors advice. However, advice, prescriptions for contraceptives and referrals for puberty inhibitors are usually available from offices of the Family Planning Alliance Australia.

In the decision of Re Kelvin [2017] 351 ALR 329, the Full Court of the Family Court held that in non-controversial cases, transgender children and their families are no longer required to seek authorisation from the court to undertake Stage 2 hormone treatment. However, it was held that where the decision to access treatment was not supported by one or both of the parents, as well as for children in state care, a court order is still required.

In the English case of Gillick v West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority [1986] AC 112, the court decided that a doctor who prescribed contraceptives to a girl under the age of 16 years did not commit an offence under legislation similar to sections in the Criminal Code. The doctor was charged with encouraging intercourse with a girl under 16 years, and aiding and abetting unlawful sexual intercourse. The court decided that, provided the child was sufficiently mature to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment, the absence of any parental consent did not render the doctor’s conduct unlawful.

This English decision is not binding on Australian courts, but it is considered in Re a Declaration Regarding Medical Treatment for “A” [2020] QSC 389 and was discussed by the Supreme Court of Queensland when they were asked and ordered a declaration that the mother can consent to Stage 1 puberty blocking medical treatment for her child without the requirement to obtain the consent of the father of the child whose whereabouts are currently unknown. The child “A” was diagnosed with autism and was currently receiving treatment and support from a multidisciplinary team of specialists including psychologists, a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist at a specialist clinic. The treating medical practitioners, whilst she believed “A” has the capacity to understand the information provided around the proposed treatment, she does not believe that “A” fully understands what is proposed and is not persuaded that she is currently Gillick competent. The Supreme Court confirmed the decision of Re Imogen (2020) 61 Fam LR 344, and it was held that if a parent or a medical practitioner of an adolescent disputes the Gillick competence of an adolescent, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria or the proposed treatment for gender dysphoria, an application to the Family Court is mandatory.