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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 2. March 11, 1975

A Common Code

A Common Code

The proposed common code of sexual behaviour in the Sexual Offences part of the Crimes Act (sections 127 to 149) was constructed by modifying the present provisions governing sexual behaviour. The changes suggested to the Crimes Amendment Bill were incorporated. The submission noted that NZUSA might not necessarily agree with all the assumptions underlying present provisions. It could for instance be argued that the age of consent should be lowered. NZUSA also expressed grave doubts as to the utility of the present penalties for sexual offences, especially imprisonment. However, the appropriate time to review penalties and the assumptions underlying various categories of sexual offences would be once the concept of a common code had been accepted.

The main effect of the common code outlined in the submission would be that for each offence (e.g. indecent assault) the same penalties and conditions would apply to both heterosexual and homosexual situations, which would involve the creation of some new offences. The language of the proposed code is 'de-sexed' (i.e. the word 'person' is used rather than 'male' and 'female'), and sections which presently deal separately with homosexual offences are consolidated into the sections dealing with heterosexual offences. The overall effect of adopting such a code would be to simplify and rationalise what is presently confusing and inconsistent area of the criminal law.

Some of the effects of changes suggested would be

  • females would be made liable for sexual offences upon males (at present there is no such liability).
  • the offence of rape would be extended to cover both homosexual and heterosexual rape and females would be made liable for rape.
  • a husband would be liable for both sodomitical and vaginal rape of his wife (at present he is liable only for sodomitical rape.)