CPS launches consultation on whether gender identity affects consent

CPS launches consultation on whether a suspect’s gender identity affects consent in rape and sexual assault cases

  • Wider guidance on sexual offences was comprehensively amended last year
  • But a section on gender deception will be updated following a consultation 
  • The draft guidance will determine whether gender identity could affect consent
  • Comes after offenders have duped victims to believe they are a different gender

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has launched a consultation over whether a suspect’s gender identity can affect consent in cases of rape and sexual assault.

Wider guidance on rape and sexual offences was comprehensively amended last year, but a particular section about gender deception will now be updated following a 12-week consultation beginning today.

The draft guidance will determine whether gender identity could affect consent and address issues over whether a suspect’s gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. 

This includes whether language used to describe a transgender defendant in a criminal case is appropriate. 

The consultation comes after multiple high profile cases where an offender has tricked a victim into believing they are a different gender in order to sexually assault them.

In July, a traumatised victim of transgender predator Tarjit Singh told of how she fell into the clutches of the controlling abuser after meeting on a dating site.

The woman, who is in her early 30’s, ended up trapped in an abusive relationship with Singh – who was born Hannah Walters but now identifies as a man.

Wider guidance on rape and sexual offences was comprehensively amended last year, but a particular section about gender deception will now be updated (stock picture)

He was tricked into having sex with Singh who used a specially-made prosthetic penis and refused to get undressed in the bedroom.

Singh, 32, hid her true identity by strapping down her breasts while insisting sex took place in the dark.

He insisted on having sex in the dark so he could use strap-on devices without their knowledge.

He was convicted at Snaresbrook Crown Court of three counts of assault by penetration, six counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and one count of making a threat to kill. Singh was jailed for ten years.

Siobhan Blake, CPS lead for rape and serious sexual assault said: ‘Cases where the issue of deception as to gender is a factor are rare, but they involve complex and sensitive decision-making. 

Tarjit Singh, who was born Hannah Walter but now identifies as a man, tricked three women into relationships by presenting as a male and using a prosthetic penis during intercourse without their knowledge

‘It is important that our prosecutors have access to the latest case law when considering whether the threshold for criminal charges has been met. 

‘While every case must be decided on its own specific facts, we want to be transparent in setting out the factors that should be considered.

“Our draft guidance has already benefited from the input of a number of interested groups, but we want the final product to be informed by as wide a range of views as possible. 

‘We are inviting comments to make sure that it strikes the right balance, so we can meet our obligations to be fair to both victims and suspects.’

The consultation will set out relevant information that will have to be considered in future when prosecutors weigh up evidential and public interest factors. 

Prosecutors will be asked to consider the evidence and circumstances of an alleged incident to determine whether a victim was deceived.

This will be achieved using a three-stage approach, a statement from the CPS said today.

Firstly, prosecutors will be asked to consider issues such as how a suspect perceived their gender at the time of an offence and assess whether they carried out an active or deliberate deception.

This will involve reviewing the actions of the suspect before, during and after the incident in order to fully grasp the circumstances and context of the attack. 

The updated guidance is also hoped to provide greater clarity on the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which was enacted to allow individuals to have their affirmed gender recognised in law – while making it clear that their gender identity is not dependent on them doing so.

The consultation will set out eight questions, including whether any evidential considerations and public interest factors should be added, removed or amended; and whether the language is appropriate.

It will conclude on December 19. 

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