Cabinet moves to define sexual consent for the first time

The amendments include cases of mistaken identity

Cabinet moves to define sexual consent for the first time

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in Government Buildings | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will try to legally define sexual consent for the first time today.

Ms Fitzgerald is expected to propose changes that make it clear a person is incapable of consenting to a sexual act if they are asleep or unconscious, or as a result of intoxication by either alcohol and/or drugs.

The bill also says: "A person does not consent to sexual activity if the activity occurs while he/she is so affected by a physical condition or impairment of such a nature and degree that he/she cannot consent or refuse to consent to the activity".

Consent can also not be given if a person is mistaken about the identity of the other person.

They also cannot give permission if they are being unlawfully detained, unable to communicate or if consent is through a third party.

The amendments to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 also say that a person does not consent to sexual activity "just because he or she does not protest and/or offer physical resistance to the activity".

It is believed the provisions would provide additional clarity for the legal system in sexual offences cases.

The amendments were introduced following a clarification from the Supreme Court on the issue of consent in November. 

The original bill included an act to give effect to - among other issues - directives of the European Parliament on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, as well as to repeal the Criminal Law (Incest Proceedings) Act 1995.

It began its journey through the Oireachtas back in 2015.