In Scotland, sexual offences laws are set out in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 as amended (SOA Scotland). The Sexual Offences (Procedure and Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2002 amended the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to restrict the use of evidence of the prior sexual history of the complainant. The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced a range of procedural and substantive rules regarding sexual offences.
Many of the provisions covered by this review meet good practice standards. For example, the law include crimes that cover all forms of non-consensual sexual penetration – by penis, objects and other body parts – of all orifices. Non-penetrative offences are broadly defined to include all forms of sexual assault and most offences carry serious penalties. There is an extensive array of child sexual assault provisions, no moralistic terminology is used, and consensual same-sex sexual activity is not a crime. The age of consent is 16 years throughout the UK.
Other areas of the law that do not meet good practice include the need for corroboration in a range of offences, including sexual offences. The Government has said this is under review. Also, evidence of a complainant’s prior sexual conduct, including with the accused, is admissible with certain requirements and safeguards.
The United Kingdom is a state party to relevant international human rights treaties, including the UN 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, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, but has not ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence 2011 (Istanbul Convention).
The full assessment of the United Kingdom is available here.