SEXUAL OFFENCES BILL
Yesterday afternoon (10 June 2009), the Scottish Parliament passed
the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill. The bill was passed by 121
votes to zero, with one abstention.
The bill overhauls Scotland’s sexual offences law, and removes
all the remaining discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
and gender identity.
The bill does not make major changes to what is illegal or legal,
but it does restructure the law and introduce a clear definition
of consent, which hopefully will help lead to more convictions
of those who commit rape and sexual assault.
The bill also:
· Extends the crime of rape to include male rape, and ensures
that it and other sexual offences laws fully apply to transgender
· Introduces the offence of sexual assault by penetration (that
is, rape with an object)
· Abolishes the old “homosexual offences” of sodomy and gross
indecency, introducing instead a set of gender and sexual orientation
neutral sexual offences
UNISON, the STUC, other unions, the Equality Network and other
LGBT organisations have been working for these changes at the
Scottish Parliament since it opened in 1999.
The Equality Network successfully worked for a number of amendments
to the bill to ensure that all existing discrimination is abolished.
We believe that this bill removes the last sexual orientation
discrimination from Scotland’s criminal law. The main direct sexual
orientation discrimination now remaining in Scots law is the segregation
between marriage (for mixed-sex couples) and civil partnership
(for same-sex couples).
Related to that is the discriminatory requirement for transsexual
people to divorce before they can have their gender legally recognised.
The campaign to open up both marriage and civil partnership to
couples regardless of their gender is now a priority.
The new bill will go to the Queen for Royal Assent in July, and
will become the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. It is likely
to come into effect later this year.
Scottish Equalities Officer
0141 342 2831 (dd)