Danish conservative parties support law on consent before sex

Support is gathering in Denmark’s parliament for a law which would define sex without explicit consent as rape.

Danish conservative parties support law on consent before sex
Minister for Fisheries and Equal Opportunities and Nordic Cooperation Eva Kjer Hansen. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

In November last year, the left-wing Red Green Alliance (Enhedslisten) party was unable to secure an overall parliamentary majority for a new law on sexual consent.

But that appears to have changed, with right-of-centre parties now saying that they would support rules similar to those introduced last year in neighbouring Sweden.

Conservative Party leader and Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen said on Friday that he was prepared to support a proposal defining sex without explicit consent as rape.

Eva Kjer Hansen of the Liberal (Venstre) party, who is minister for equal opportunities, told media Altinget that she would also work to secure the law change.

Both parties are partners in Denmark’s tripartite coalition government.

“I have long called for this, because I think we need better legal protection for women. It is very good that the Minister of Justice is now convinced on this. The numbers speak for themselves,” Hansen said to Altinget, noting that, in 2017, only one in ten of the 971 reported rapes resulted in convictions.

Studies have shown that thousands of rapes or attempted rapes occur in Denmark every year, Altinget writes.

Libertarian party Liberal Alliance, the third party in the coalition government, has not recently confirmed its position on the potential law change, but voted against the Red-Green Alliance proposal last year.

Right-wing Danish People’s Party, the government’s primary parliamentary ally, said it wanted to see a formal bill on the issue before deciding on its stance.

All of Denmark's left-of-centre parties supported the previous proposal.

Current rules only consider rape to be committed in instances when the accused is proved to have had sex with somebody who tried to, or was unable to, stop the act. As such, far fewer are convicted of rape than would be the case if explicit consent was required in the legal definition of the crime.

READ ALSO: Denmark's courts hand out tougher sentences for rape, violence

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Former head of Danish intelligence charged over leaks

Danish prosecutors on Friday charged the country's former military intelligence chief with leaking state secrets, following a scandal over Denmark's cooperation with US intelligence.

Former head of Danish intelligence charged over leaks
The prosecution authority said Lars Findsen was accused of “having divulged secrets important to national security on several occasions and… under particularly aggravated circumstances”.
The details of the investigation are classified, but the case comes after Danish media reported that the Danish intelligence services had cooperated with the US National Security Agency (NSA).

Findsen, who was suspended in August 2020 without public explanation, was subsequently held in custody from December 2021 to February 2022. He insists he is innocent.

“I never divulged any state secrets. I reject the allegations”, he told Danish news agency Ritzau in June, criticising the handling of the case as “ridiculous”.

Prosecutors accuse Findsen of leaking state secrets and other confidential information after his suspension to six people, including two journalists, over a period of up to 17 months.

The leaks could “harm relations with other intelligence service partners and make their work more difficult if their work methods were revealed”, prosecutor Jakob Berger Nielsen said.
“Trust in the (Danish) intelligence service’s ability to protect sensitive information may have been weakened,” he added.
The prosecution said it would request a trial behind closed doors. A date has yet to be set.
While Denmark never publicly revealed why Findsen and the other agents were suspended, there have been suspicions that his service conducted illegal surveillance.
The government accused them of hiding “crucial information” and providing “false information to the authorities” between 2014 and 2020.
In May 2021, an investigation by several Danish media revealed that the NSA used Danish underwater cables to spy on officials in France, Germany, Norway and Sweden until at least 2014.
Former German chancellor Angela Merkel was among the NSA’s targets.
The revelations sparked an international scandal and the four countries demanded explanations from Washington and Copenhagen.