Prohibition against publicly naming accused rapists to be removed
Published Thursday, 25 May, 2023 at 07:30 AM
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath
- Restrictions prohibiting identification of defendants charged with rape and other prescribed sexual offences before committal to be scrapped in Queensland
- More than 30 pieces of legislation within the justice portfolio to be amended
- Recognition of the death of unborn children as a result of criminal conduct to be strengthened
Individuals charged with rape and other prescribed sexual offences in Queensland will be able to be publicly identified before they are committed to stand trial under new legislation introduced in Parliament today.
Removal of the outdated protection is one of numerous amendments contained in the Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, set to be introduced by Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath today.
The Bill makes various amendments to more than 30 pieces of legislation in the justice portfolio, including legislation relating to the operation of courts and tribunals.
The removal of the prohibition against identifying accused rapists, and defendants charged with other prescribed sexual offences, before committal was one of the recommendations made by the Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce.
Under the changes to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978, those accused of rape or another prescribed sexual offence will be treated the same as an individual charged with any other offence.
The amendments will apply to all matters from the time the laws commence, even if a defendant was charged before that date.
Under the reforms, those accused of rape or another prescribed sexual offence and their alleged victims can apply to a court for a non-publication order, but the court must take the wishes of the alleged victim into consideration when deciding that application.
Accredited media will have a right of appearance on any application for non-publication and will be notified when an application is filed.
The changes to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1978, brings Queensland into line with all other Australian jurisdictions other than the Northern Territory.
The Bill also amends the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, the Youth Justice Act 1992 and the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 2009 to strengthen recognition of the loss of an unborn child as a result of criminal conduct and improve support available to families.
The reforms will recognise the death of an unborn child as a result of criminal conduct in indictments and require courts to treat such deaths as an aggravating factor for relevant serious offences during sentencing, unless exceptional circumstances apply.
Individuals who would have been a family member of the unborn child, including parents and siblings, will be able to give a victim impact statement to explain to the court the effect the loss of the unborn child has had.
Funeral expense assistance will also extend to a person responsible for the cost of a funeral of an unborn child that dies as direct result of an act of violence committed against a pregnant person.
Quotes attributable to the Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath:
“Queenslanders’ understanding of consent and the impact of sexual assault has evolved in large part because of the bravery of women and girls who have shared their lived experiences and it is only right that our laws evolve as well.
“The previous protections for accused rapists were based in part on the false assumption that women maliciously make up complaints to damage reputations.
“These rape myths have absolutely no place in our society and our laws need to reflect this.
“Under the reforms we have introduced, those accused of rape and other prescribed sexual offences will no longer fall into a different category. They will be treated exactly the same as any other individual charged with an offence.
“It’s also our hope that the public naming of these defendants will lead to other witnesses coming forward with relevant evidence.
“The amendments we are making also better recognise the grief and trauma that families experience when an unborn child dies as a result of criminal conduct.
“I would like to recognise the tireless advocacy and fortitude from families and victims to see reform in this area.
“These reforms ensure that families who wish to hold a funeral for an unborn child can do so without being financially burdened.
“The changes strike the right balance between acknowledging the death of an unborn child as a result of criminal conduct without conflicting with the rights of a pregnant person.”
Media contact – Cullen Robinson 0418 170 474