QCOSS was invited to make a submission in relation to the Criminal Code (Consent and Mistake of Fact) & Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020. Our submission reflects our engagement with our members and supporters, many of whom have deep and direct experience in supporting, counselling and caring for victims of rape and sexual assault.
Our member and supporter polling indicates a near consensus view that the Bill will have no tangible benefit for rape and sexual assault survivors, nor will it effectively address the key issues that the community sector has persistently highlighted as being in need of reform. This perspective is shared by leading academics in the field, who describe the Bill as a ‘huge disappointment’.
QCOSS is of the belief the Bill restates existing Queensland law and does little to improve outcomes for victims of sexual violence. There is an overwhelming bias in favour of male defendants at the expense of female complainants. The Bill also fails to rectify discriminatory assumptions that people with disability are incapable of consenting to sex. Survey results gathered by QCOSS confirm that the Bill fails to adequately respond to community concerns which initially prompted the referral of this law reform issue to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
We oppose the Bill and advocate for law reform that will adopt an affirmative model of consent, recognise the human rights of rape and sexual assault victim and people with disability, and address the mistake of fact excuse in perpetuating harmful rape myths.
QCOSS respectfully asks the Committee to recommend that government redraft the Bill to incorporate the following features:
- Implementation of an affirmative model of consent;
- Fuller consideration of the human rights of sexual assault victims;
- Recognition that people with disability can consent to sex;
- Implementation of a set of Guiding Principles;
- Repeal of the ‘mistake of fact’ excuse due to its perpetuation of harmful rape myths.