WTAF Do These New NSW Sex Consent Laws Mean?
There's Been A Historic Legal Shift. Here's What It Means For You.
There has been a historic legal shift – and it’s important that you understand its implications for your sex life.
On Tuesday, NSW passed landmark sexual consent laws through the NSW parliament. Affirmative consent reforms are now law, and this marks a major overhaul in the state’s laws.
What does it mean?
Basically, that a person will need to be able to show that they took active steps to find out if a person consented to sex before they can rely in court on a belief in consent. As in, they must say or do something to actively communicate consent.
What does this mean for your sex life?
Consent cannot be presumed, and if you presume consent you may well find yourself in trouble with the law.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said these new law reforms would simplify sexual consent legislation in a “common sense” way.
Clearly, “simplify” and “common sense” means something very different to the Attorney-General in comparison to the average person on the street, who may assume consent is simply common sense when two bodies are banging.
Oops, did we just say that out loud?
What we do know is that these changes have been specifically brought in as part of an attempt to increase the rates of prosecution of sexual offences through the judicial system. The reforms are also an attempt to stop a “freeze response” being regarded as consent.
But to attempt to assert that these new laws “simplify” the situation is, not to put too fine a point on it, bollocks.
There is nothing about this that will “simplify” the situation of one person’s word against another’s. And Penthouse isn’t afraid to say so.
Speakman said, “This requirement is not onerous. It does not make consensual sex illegal. It does not stop consensual sex. It does not require a written agreement or script, or stifle spontaneity.”
He posted on Instagram, “Under our reforms, if you want to engage in sexual activity with someone, then you need to do or say something to find out if they want to have sex with you too. It’s that simple.”
Here’s that word again, so we will insist once more that this is not a simple issue, and we suspect that seeing rates of persecution rapidly increase as a result of these reforms may well make the masses see the issue here.
Keep in mind that it was activist Saxon Mullins’ own court experience that triggered a landmark review of the laws, following the highly publicised rape trial of Luke Lazarus. He was found not guilty in 2017, having initially been found guilty by a District Court jury in 2015, but the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the verdict and ordered a retrial after finding the judge misdirected the jury.
Mullins co-founded the Rape & Sexual Assault Research & Advocacy Initiative with Swinburne University of Technology law lecturer Rachael Burgin.
Mullins celebrated the news, writing on Twitter, “Not sure if I want to cry, dance, or drink champagne. Think I’m going to do a combination of all three.”
To her, this is personal.
And now, all of us have to consent to the consequences.