Reforming Sexual Consent in Northern Ireland: Reflections on ‘Reasonable Belief’
In the second of two Queen's Policy Engagement Briefing Papers, Dr Eithne Dowds situates Northern Ireland’s approach to sexual consent within broader trends towards ‘affirmative models of consent’.
In Northern Ireland, establishing the presence or absence of consent is a key factor in determining whether a sexual offence has been committed. The application of the consent threshold becomes even more complicated when the guilt or innocence of a defendant depends on whether their belief in consent was reasonably held.
This paper is a response to a specific proposal in the 2019 Gillen Review into serious sexual offences in Northern Ireland: that the definition as to what constitutes a reasonable belief in consent should be amended so as the jury are now asked to take account of a failure by the defendant to take any steps to ascertain whether the complainant was consenting. The paper also situates Northern Ireland’s approach to sexual consent within broader trends towards ‘affirmative models of consent’.
To read or download this Briefing Paper, please click here.