The NSW Lower House Just Passed The Much-Needed Affirmative Consent Bill
"It removes the patriarchal assumption that anyone is entitled to sex without the active, enthusiastic consent of the other person."
A much-needed affirmative consent bill has passed the New South Wales Lower House overnight, marking a significant step towards revolutionising sexual consent legislation in the state.
— Content Warning: This article discusses sexual assault. —
“This is a significant moment. This is a very significant reform,” NSW Greens spokesperson for women Jenny Leong said in a statement. “It means that it can no longer be assumed that someone consents to having sex. The person who wants sex must be able to demonstrate that they took steps to ensure that the other person also enthusiastically consents to this.”
“The Bill puts victim-survivors at the heart of the law, and removes rape myths and assumptions from the Crimes Act. It removes the patriarchal assumption that anyone is entitled to sex without the active, enthusiastic consent of the other person.”
The bill’s passing comes after years of campaigning and activism from Sydney woman Saxon Mullins, who was failed by the legal system in her own court case following an incident in Kings Cross back in 2013. In Mullins’ case, the court found that she did not consent to a sexual encounter with the accused, Luke Lazarus, but noted that he had mistakenly believed she consented. Ultimately, this resulted in Lazarus being acquitted, despite the court finding that Mullins did not consent.
“While it’s important to acknowledge the Attorney General in bringing the Bill, and the multi-partisan support for this Bill here in this place — it is critical that we acknowledge that credit for this reform sits with some incredibly strong survivor-advocates, feminists, experts and activists who have been through so much and who have never given up — and in particular survivor-advocate Saxon Mullins,” Leong said, crediting Mullins for shedding light on such an important issue.
The new bill aims to close this loophole by recognising that sexual consent must not be presumed, and that consent involved ongoing and mutual communication.
“The Bill puts victim-survivors at the heart of the law, and removes rape myths and assumptions from the Crimes Act,” Leong continued. “It removes the patriarchal assumption that anyone is entitled to sex without the active, enthusiastic consent of the other person. For so many, this reform is very personal — dealing with subject matter is very traumatic – because the acts of sexual assault and sexual violence they were subjected to were traumatic.
“This reform was a long time coming, and is a significant step towards eliminating the excessive levels of sexual assault in our society – so that we can all participate in society equally without fear.”
The bill is expected to be sworn into law by the end of this week or early next week, according to the NSW Greens.