NEW laws introduced into the Queensland Parliament are aimed at defining consent and driving change in the way sexual offences are prosecuted and defended.
The Criminal Law (Coercive Control and Affirmative Consent) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 if passed, will introduce an affirmative model of consent which requires free and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual activity.
The amendments to consent also expressly recognise non-consensual condom removal or tampering with a condom, known colloquially as “stealthing”, as rape.
The Bill also expands the non-exhaustive list of circumstances where there is no consent.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette D’Ath said the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce heard from victim-survivors of sexual violence who said they were traumatised by the offence and then re-traumatised by the justice system.
“The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce found that sexual offence laws are often misunderstood, and rape myths and stereotypes, including narratives of ‘implied consent’, still feature heavily in trials,” she said.
“Failing to use, or interfering with a condom, strikes at the heart of a person’s right to bodily autonomy and their right to choose whether and how to participate in a sexual activity.
“It is rape and we are changing our laws to reflect this.”
The move is a part of the Queensland Government’s commitment to introduce a model of affirmative consent and will mean that the law better reflects community expectations of equality and mutual respect in sexual relationships.
The Bill was developed following extensive consultation with key stakeholders, including domestic, family and sexual violence stakeholders, and the legal profession.
The new laws related to affirmative consent and ‘stealthing’ address recommendations from the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce, Hear Her Voice Report two.
The Bill also includes other amendments which aim to address sexual violence, including introducing jury directions for sexual offence proceedings and imposing a duty on the court to disallow improper questions.
Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence director and Queensland Sexual Assault Network Vice Chair Di Macleod said she welcomed the new legislation.
“I welcome the State Government’s introduction of these laws to better reflect the reality of sexual violence and to increase victim-survivors’ access to justice,” she said.