Election 2023: Labour to campaign on overhauling consent laws

Warning: This story mentions sexual assault and may be distressing for some readers.

The Labour Party has since clarified its position that it would not shift the burden of proof to defendants.  

Newshub can reveal Labour will campaign on a promise to overhaul sexual consent laws so it would be up to alleged offenders to prove their victim said "yes".  

But the party's facing questions over why they didn't do it earlier in their term in power.  

Layba Zubir, 17, is challenging adults to do better for sexual violence survivors. But it shouldn’t be her fight  

"It's a bit disappointing it took them this long, that it took a 17-year-old to tell them that, 'Hey, maybe something's not right,'" she told Newshub.    

Layba was in a sexually violent relationship. It took her more than a year to report what happened to her - then she gave up the fight for her own personal justice because the odds were stacked against her.  

But she continued to fight for others all the way to Parliament where she handed over a petition with more than 12,000 signatures - calling for our sexual consent laws to be reformed. 

Currently, the victim has to prove in court they did not consent. Labour's now promising, if elected, they'll change the law so the accused to prove they did have consent.  

Labour's police spokesperson Ginny Andersen said it's an important step.  

Ginny Andersen.
Andersen. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

"This is a great step not only for improving the rights for victims of sexual violence but also sending a strong message to young people growing up in New Zealand of the importance of having a respectful and consensual sexual relationship." 

But while Layba is pleased there's progress promised, she's frustrated it’s taken so long.   

Labya's petition got cross party support for reform. The Greens have long campaigned on strengthening consent laws and have a promise inked into their election manifesto.  

National has also previously committed to considering a change.  

Now Layba is just hoping politicians - no matter their colouring - finally act.