Help close the archaic 'mistake of fact' loophole in Queensland

Now is the time to help close the archaic ‘mistake of fact’ loophole in Queensland

mistake of fact
In July 2019 the Queensland State government referred the archaic ‘mistake of fact’ defence to the Law Reform Commission for review.

The 110-year-old legal loophole allows accused rapists to argue that they had an honest yet mistaken belief that their victim had consented, and has been used for many years by defendants, including repeat offenders, to walk free from accusations of rape.

The controversial defence has been the subject of considerable media attention in recent years, and has long been fought by women’s legal services.

Rape victims and reform advocates welcomed the review as necessary to bring Queensland’s laws on sexual violence into the 21st century. A similar defence still exists in NSW but other states have abolished it.

The LRC is expected to make a recommendation to the Palaszczuk government in early 2020.

On the 10th of January the Queensland LRC published its consultation paper and began accepting submissions on the laws from the public, which is open until 31st of January.

Author, non-practising lawyer and academic, Bri Lee, co-authored a detailed academic study of the use of the defence with Bond University law professor Jonathon Crowe.

Their research indicated that the loophole was often used when the complainant had a ‘freeze’ response to unwanted sexual attention and didn’t fight back enough, if there were any issues of mental capacity or language barriers, or if alcohol was involved.

Lee and Crowe have compiled a practical summary of the consultation paper and  drafted comprehensive responses to address several key issues to encourage more people to make submissions.

Their responses have been written in a way that means individuals can easily include their own personal experiences.

The more people who make submissions about the way these laws have impacted them, the greater chance there is of securing reform.

These laws have had a devastating impact. Now is the time to use your voice to change that.

Send an email to [email protected] by the 31st of January. 

The National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. 

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