24 January 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD today announced that the Government has agreed to the inclusion of new provisions on sexual consent in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015.
Speaking following the meeting the Tánaiste said:
“The Government has agreed to the inclusion of the new provisions on consent in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015. The changes proposed will make it clear that a person who is incapable of consenting to a sexual act due to, for instance, being asleep or unconscious, as a result of intoxication or being mistaken as to the identity of the other person involved cannot give consent.
“Also, a person does not consent if he or she is being unlawfully detained, cannot communicate whether or not they agree to the act due to a physical disability or if the only consent given is that of a third party
“The provisions will help provide additional clarity, together with established case law, in cases involving sexual offences.”
“The changes in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill are far-reaching and will bring additional protections to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Note for editors:
The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill was published on the 23rd of September 2015. The Bill recently passed Committee Stage in Dáil Éireann and it is scheduled to return to the Dáíl for Report Stage on the 1st of February, 2017.
The Bill contains:
· New criminal offences to protect children against grooming;
· New measures to protect children from online predators;
· New & strengthened offences to tackle child pornography;
· New provisions to be introduced regarding evidence by victims, particularly children;
· Addressing a gender anomaly in the laws on incest;
· New offences addressing public indecency;
· Harassment Orders to protect victims of convicted sex offenders;
· Maintaining the age of consent to sexual activity at 17 years of age and to provide for a new “proximity of age” defence; and
· To criminalise the purchase of sexual services.
· Statutory statement of the law as regards consent to sexual acts
When enacted, the Bill will bring Irish law into line with a number of international legal instruments as well as implementing the recommendations of a number of Oireachtas committees.
Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 - Draft Head re. Consent to Sexual Act
(1) A person consents to a sexual act if he or she freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act.
(2) A person does not consent to a sexual act if:
a. he or she allows the act to take place or submits to it because of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of the threat of the application of force to him or her or to some other person, or because of a well-founded fear that force may be applied to him or her or to some other person;
b. he or she is asleep or unconscious;
c. he or she is incapable of consenting because of the effect of intoxication or of having consumed some other substance;
d. he or she is suffering from a physical disability which prevents him or her from communicating whether he or she agrees to the act;
e. he or she is mistaken as to the nature and purpose of the act in question;
f. he or she is mistaken as to the identity of any other person involved in the act;
g. he or she is being unlawfully detained at the time at which the act takes place;
h. the only expression or indication of consent or agreement to the act comes from somebody other than the person himself or herself.
(3) This section does not limit the circumstances in which it may be established that a person did not consent to a sexual act.
(4) Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn at any time before the act begins, or in the case of a continuing act, while the act is taking place.
(5) Any failure or omission on the part of a person to offer resistance to an act does not constitute consent to that act.
(6) [Section 9 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990 is hereby repealed] [ Alternatively, substitute this section for section 9].