New South Wales has just passed new legislation, meaning people will need to explicitly seek consent, before having sex.
The affirmative consent laws mean that people must say or do something to find out whether their partner consents to sexual activity, or they could be found guilty of sexual assault.
Put simply, the legislation means a person does not consent to sexual activity unless they say or do something to communicate it.
The New South Wales Attorney-General Mark Speakman, who announced the dramatic overhaul earlier this year, said the reform is “common sense”, and will ensure more effective prosecutions of sexual offences.
“No law can ever erase the trauma of sexual assault, but we have listened to calls for change and consulted victim-survivors and legal experts to improve our response to sexual violence," he said.
Speakman also reiterated the legislation does not make consensual sex illegal, require a written agreement, or “stifle spontaneity”.
“It’s a matter of common sense and respect.”
The legislation has been hard fought for by Saxon Mullins, a long time campaigner for affirmative consent laws.
According to SBS News, Mullins shared her story of a sexual assault encounter in 2013 in Sydney, when she was 18-years old.
A court found that while she didn’t consent to sex with Luke Lazarus, the judge ruled he had the mistaken but genuine belief she had, because she “froze up” during the incident.
He was acquitted in 2017.
Reacting to the news today, Mullins said she was “not sure if I want to cry, dance or drink champagne".
“I think I’m doing to do a combination of all three.”
The new laws are expected to commence in mid-2022.