Lying to have sex could be “sexual assault”

Ever told someone you loved them in an effort to take things further in a sexual way?

In the future, this type of behavior could see you charged with sexual assault.

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission is currently considering the treatment of sexual consent within the criminal law code.


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Under Section 6.48, it proposes that “the law should provide that a person who is fraudulently induced to participate in sexual activity does not, in law, consent to sexual activity”.

“If the proposal was to become law, telling someone you love them when you don’t, pretending to be rich and well connected when you are not, claiming educational achievements that you don’t possess, denying a complex sexual history – say, with same sex partners – could all conceivably count as fraudulently obtaining sexual consent,” explains Andrew Dyer, a criminologist with Sydney University.

“It’s quite dramatic in its reach. It means you would have to be very careful in talking yourself up.”

I have a real problem with this potential reform – and I say this as a female who has been on the receiving end of my share of sexual harassment.

What I dislike about this is that there are many men who already mistakenly believe that old chestnut: “She was into it. She wanted to have sex. She just changed her mind the next day because he doesn’t want anything to do with her now, so she’s calling it rape.”

This reform, to me, only serves to play into this unhelpful rhetoric, and give the men who hold this misogynistic attitude a reason to feel justified in feeling that way.

Furthermore, where do we draw the line in the sand?

What if you are ashamed of your upbringing or had a terrible childhood, so you lie about it when chatting up a prospective date, and after you sleep together, your sexual partner discovers the lie.

Does that leave you liable to be charged with sexual assault?

I fear this reform could be a step in entirely the wrong direction. Fortunately, it’s not law yet – and NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman, who commissioned the review, is still seeking feedback.

To have your views on the matter of sexual assault and consent heard, you can send your submission by email to nsw-lrc@justice.nsw.gov.au.

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