Controversial consent laws pass in Qld

·2-min read

Queensland has passed new sexual consent laws that critics warn don't go far enough and may be superseded in coming months.

Under the laws, which have bipartisan support, consent is no longer assumed if a person does not verbally reject a sex act.

Consent will also be able to be withdrawn by words or actions during a sexual act.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman says the new laws provide more clarity on sexual consent and close loopholes for perpetrators.

"We have enshrined in the Criminal Code principles like silence doesn't amount to consent, consent once given can be withdrawn and the self-intoxication of a defendant cannot be relied upon by that defendant to show that they were mistaken about whether or not consent was given and that was reasonable," she told AAP.

"This will provide clarity for judges to properly direct juries and get better outcomes for victims."

Mistaking consent is still available as a criminal defence against sexual assault in some circumstances.

The Greens unsuccessfully tried to move last-minute amendments to mandate affirmative consent and remove the mistake of fact defence.

Affirmative consent is an explicit, informed, and voluntary agreement to take part in a sexual act.

Greens MP Amy McMahon said the laws reinforce the status quo and won't change the experience of survivors in the criminal justice system.

"The minor changes to the model of consent in this bill leave the onus on victims to express non-consent or actively resist," she told parliament," she told parliament on Thursday.

"While I'm pleased that the bill states consent can be withdrawn, and that silence cannot constitute consent, it fails to introduce an affirmative model of consent."

Ms McMahon said an affirmative consent model has been in place in Tasmania and Victoria for years already.

Ms Fentiman has already launched a taskforce review of the experiences women in the criminal justice system, led by former Court of Appeal judge Margaret McMurdo, that's considering an affirmative consent model.

It means the laws to be passed on Thursday could be superseded within the next 12 months.

The Liberal National Party didn't back the Greens' amendments but voiced support for a affirmative consent model.

LNP spokeswoman for the prevention of sexual violence Amanda Camm said that model has widespread support among survivors and advocates.

"The bill, in its current form, makes no significant changes towards seeking justice for survivors of sexual violence, holding perpetrators accountable for their actions or increase safety for the Queensland community," Ms Camm told parliament.

"Furthermore, the recommendations on which the Bill is based, do not reflect the views of survivors or survivor advocates."