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Lawmaker proposes 'affirmative consent' bill

Posted at 3:11 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 18:43:16-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge someone with a felony crime if consent is not given for sexual activity.

House Bill 98, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would require "affirmative consent" in either words or actions. As she described it, "yes means yes."

"This is not asking someone to write a contract or anything. This is a clear understanding between two people before they get intimate that they know they’re both on the same page," Rep. Romero said in an interview Tuesday with FOX 13. "In certain situations when it comes to sexual assault, there’s a ton of research on this, an individual could freeze up so they haven’t said yes, they haven’t said no, but they haven’t given you their consent."

Rep. Romero said the goal of the bill is to change how people view sexual assault, taking the blame off of victims. She pointed out that Utah is above the national average for rapes and only about 1% of cases are prosecuted. It gives prosecutors another option, she said.

"What I’m asking people to do is re-evaluate how they look at rape and sexual assault and what we need to do better as a society to ensure somebody isn’t being violated and we’re blaming them for what happened to them," she said.

HB98 would make it a third-degree felony. Rep. Romero tried similar legislation last year, but it did not pass. She said she will keep bringing the bill back until it passes.