The New Zealand sexual offences laws are found in the Crimes Act 1961 (as amended) (CA) and the Evidence Act 2006 (EA) contains the rules of evidence which apply to sexual assault offences.

Many of the provisions of the CA meet good practice. For example, consensual same-sex sexual activity is not a crime, all non-consensual sexual acts involving penetration are offences, corroboration is explicitly not required, there is no defence of marriage to rape, free and voluntary consent is required and sexual assault crimes are gender- neutral. There are specific child sexual assault offences, including ‘grooming’, and they are also gender-neutral. A close-in-age defence to child sexual offences is available to protect children and young people from being prosecuted for consensual sexual activity with their peers when one or both is under the age of consent. Further, consensual sexual activity with persons with disability is not a crime and the language used to describe a person with disability is not discriminatory or derogatory.

There are some parts of the law that only partly meet the good practice criteria. For example, not all non-penetrative, non-consensual sexual acts such as groping or touching are expressly criminalised in the legislation. Cross examination of the complainant about prior sexual activity (consensual or non-consensual) is allowed with the ‘leave of the court’.

The legislation does not explicitly provide for a close-in-age defence to child sexual offences to prevent criminalising consensual sexual activity between young people where one or both are under 16.

New Zealand is a state party to relevant international and regional human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The full assessment of New Zealand is available here.

NEXT STEPS TOWARDS REFORM: THE PACIFIC

NEXT STEPS TOWARDS REFORM: THE PACIFIC

This report examines the status of sexual offences legislation in the Commonwealth Pacific, assessing good practice and identifying where there are gaps in protection, with a particular focus on women, children, LGBT+ people and people with disability.

GOOD PRACTICE IN HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANT SEXUAL OFFENCES LAWS

GOOD PRACTICE IN HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANT SEXUAL OFFENCES LAWS

This report lays out criteria for good practice human rights compliant laws across four areas of sexual offences legislation, namely rape/sexual assault, age of consent for sexual conduct, treatment of consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults, and sexual offences in relation to people with disability.

CHANGING LAWS, CHANGING LIVES

CHANGING LAWS, CHANGING LIVES

Since 2015, the Trust's legislative reform programme has been analysing the need for the reform of sexual offence laws and delivering technical assistance to support such reform. Find out more about our Changing Laws, Changing Lives programme.

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