Part of the Sexual Offences Act unconstitutional : Court

By Drum Digital
03 October 2013

The criminalisation of consensual sexual conduct between consenting adolescents is unconstitutional, the Constitutional Court has ruled.

The court confirmed a lower court's order that sections 15 and 16 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, which relate to sexual offences, were unconstitutional.

The unanimous judgment was published on the court's website on Thursday.

The sections infringed on the rights of adolescents, aged between 12 and 16, to dignity and privacy, and further violated the best interest principle contained in section 28(2) of the Constitution.

Relying on expert evidence, the court concluded that the impugned provisions criminalise developmentally normative conduct for adolescents and adversely affects the very children the act seeks to protect.

The court said the effects of the impugned provisions were found not to be rationally related to the state's purpose of protecting children.

-by Sapa

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