Denmark debates new law on consent for sex

The parliament in Denmark has been discussing a proposal for a new law on consent for sex in the last couple of weeks. The parties want a new law on the area but disagree on what it should be. 

By Andreas Adamsen, Dorisilda Killo and Alberte Beierholm 

Last week Criminal Law Council gave their recommendations for a new law on consent for sex. At the core of the recommendation was that sex should be voluntary, while the reported steered clear of the notion of consent. Straffelovrådet did not recommend that you should give consent actively by, for example, saying yes. The report did, however, say that passive consent was to be considered enough, but this has since been criticized by some of the parties in parliament. 

Dansk Folkeparti, a right-wing party, thinks that it is important to make a new law to more efficiently combat rape. 

”We think it is important that you state that sexual acts should always be voluntary. We must write that very explicitly in the legislation. It is generally very good that this legislation is suggested now,” says Peter Skaarup a member of the parliament from Dansk Folkeparti. 

Will make sure that rapists get convicted 

The current laws say nothing about consent for sex and many points to this omission as a key reason for victims often struggling to get alleged rapists convicted. 

”What we have to look into is the cases that have been going on in the debate. There have been some cases in court where people from the outside would say that the accused are guilty, but really in the court people have been judged not guilty, ” says Peter Skaarup from Dansk Folkeparti. 

For now, Criminal Law Council  has made its recommendations for a new law, but the government is yet to introduce a bill in parliament. Dansk Folkeparti wants to make sure that the final proposal of the government is good enough. More than anything else, they want the new law to ensure that people who are guilty of rape will be convicted. 

You should not have to sign a contract

On the streets of Copenhagen, the idea of a new law on consent has been met with both skeptical thoughts and positive reactions:

”I think that is a great proposal. Sex should be consensual all the time. Making it mandatory to have consent is a good way to prevent people from making the wrong judgment on that kind of thing,” says Mia Stubington from Australia. 

At the center of many discussions is how to ensure that both parties have given consent and in extension how to prove this in court.

”It is not easy to make a signed note before sex saying ’I hereby sign that I accept and agree on having sex.’ We need to work on this a bit more,” says Peter Skaarup from Dansk Folkeparti. 

On the street, some also questioned whether a new law is necessary and if a new law can help the problem or not. 

”Well, I think a lot of people make it a bit more complicated than it has to be. If you are in any kind of doubt if there was consent or not then there probably was not. Bad people will always be there and I do not think a new law will help that much,” says Mikael Nielsen.