Affirmative consent will soon be required across the entire east coast of Australia, after new laws were introduced to the Queensland Government.
Advocates have long been campaigning for the implementation of affirmative consent, which requires free and voluntary agreement before sexual activity can take place - and be considered consensual.
“The current laws in Queensland are very archaic and arguably are not delivering safety and justice for victims or the broader community, with a 1.7 per cent conviction rate and only 13 per cent of victims trusting the system enough that they report,” says National Women’s Safety Alliance chairperson and executive officer of Queensland Sexual Assault Network, Angela Lynch.
Where affirmative consent laws aren’t in place, the victim must have overtly said ‘no’ or actively fought off an offender to demonstrate non-consent.
“There can always be unintended consequences with any change in the law and we will have to wait to see how the law is interpreted in practice but overall it’s a positive step,” Ms Lynch says.
If passed, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT will all require affirmative consent prior to sex, which also recognises stealthing - the non-consensual removal of a condom - as rape.
But what does affirmative consent actually mean? Mamamia spoke to Kahon Law’s Rick Chahal about the current laws and how they’ll be applied.
What is affirmative consent?
Affirmative consent, in the context of law, refers to the explicit, informed, and voluntary agreement to participate in a sexual act, explains Chahal.
“It is a proactive, continuous process and the individuals involved must express their willingness at every stage of the encounter.