The NSW Bar Association has recently stated that “sexual consent laws should be amended in NSW so that a person who has an unreasonable but honest belief in consent is not guilty of crime”.
You may remember the horrific case where Mr Luke Lazarus was acquitted of raping an 18 year old virgin behind his father’s Kings Cross nightclub in 2013, basically on the grounds that he had an “honest belief” that the woman had consented, when she claimed that she did not.
NSW has fallen behind other jurisdictions, including Victoria and Tasmania, in relation to the concept of “reasonable grounds” as to whether or not the other person has consented to having sex.
Whilst Martin Bullock Lawyers has enormous respect for the views of the NSW Bar Association, and Greg Martin lectures in Criminal Law at Western Sydney University, in this case we think the Bar Association has got it wrong.
The NSW Government is currently considering changes to the law regarding consent for sexual intercourse, and in this case we agree with the NSW Police Association that “if a person has not clearly and enthusiastically consented to sexual activity, don’t do it”.
The concept of consent is a difficult area of law, but at its heart it is about kindness and compassion for the other person. It involves some simple empathy and care to ensure that sexual intercourse, one of the most intimate ways that we can engage with another person, is voluntary and consensual.
The law should be changed, and in this case we agree with the Police Association and not the Bar Association.
For more information about this issue, read this article by Women’s Agenda.
Feel free to contact us if you want to discuss any issue involving sexual assault, harassment or discrimination.