The Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby is urging everyone to get their opinions heard about NSW unequal age of consent for gay men.

The age of consent debate is currently in the committee rooms of the NSW upper house and submissions are being sought from people with thoughts on the issue.

We’re hoping to stir up a lot of submissions, not just from the gay and lesbian community but from the wider community. We’re always hearing that the broader community supports gay men and lesbians but this is a chance for them to do so in a meaningful way, Lobby co-convenor Somali Ghosh told the Star.

To make it easier for people, the Lobby prepared a submission pack for its website, with a form to be downloaded and details about the upper house inquiry.

Ghosh said the submissions could be made quickly and easily, and a range of opinions would be read and included in the committee’s report.

In my experience submissions do actually make a difference. I think they’re considered seriously. We’re trying to get submissions from all sorts of organisations -“ religious, community groups. It’s not going to be just those few organisations that sit inside the pink triangle. And not just from Sydney, from around the country.

Age of consent has been a topic of parliamentary debate for the past 10 years. In that time, all other Australian states passed reforms equalising the age of consent, Ghosh said.

NSW has this reputation as a state that has been really progressive in terms of gay and lesbian rights, but this has been stalled for so long now. We need to have an outcome from this committee that accurately reflects the facts. That is, that the unequal age of consent as it stands does not protect young gay men.

It criminalises them, it perpetuates homophobia in the community and inhibits young gay men from accessing health and welfare services.

Submissions have to reach the committee by Friday 1 November. The lobby’s submission pack is available online at their website (www.glrl.org.au) or by telephoning 9360 6650.

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