The Legislative Assembly (AL) has passed a government-initiated amendment bill on sex crimes listed in the Macau Penal Code, which is slated to take effect 60 days after its promulgation in’ the Official Gazette (BO).
The bill was passed during a plenary session on Friday.
The new piece of legislation includes a separate category for sexual harassment with the offence now being listed as a semi-public crime.
The bill’s outline was passed in a plenum of the legislature in January. The legislature’s 3rd Standing Committee held eight meetings to review the bill.
The government carried out a public consultation on the pro-posed amendments from Decem-ber in 2015 to February last year.
According to The Macao Post Daily the new piece of legislation aims to provide better protection for women and to enhance gender equality.
While introducing a separate category for sexual harassment, verbal and non-contact sexual harassment are not covered by the amendments passed by the legislature.
Sexual harassment is listed as a semi-public crime, which means that the city’s law enforcement agencies can take action against the suspect if the victim files a criminal complaint.
Previously, without sexual harassment being listed in the Penal Code, people claiming sexual harass¬ment had to take legal action against the suspect themselves and pay to hire a lawyer, under the offence of insult listed in the Penal Code.
A sexual harassment offender now faces a prison term of up to one year.
According to the amendments passed by the lawmakers, the non-consensual touching of any particular part of another person’s body, or with any object, in a sexual way shall be regarded as sexual harassment.
The new piece of legislation also includes a separate category for procurement for prostitution involving a minor aged between 14 and 18, with the offence being listed as a public crime – allowing the police to investigate even without the victim’s consent.
Such offenders face up to four years behind bars.
There is now also a separate category for pornography involving minors, which prohibits the production, sale, import, export, dissemination, display or distribution of pornography involving minors, with it being listed as a public crime. Offenders face up to eight years behind bars.
In addition to the three new categories, the amendments also refer to other sex offences listed in the Macau Penal Code.
According to the amendments, a rapist can be either a man or a woman, and forced oral sex is now classified as rape. Previously, the act of forcing someone to perform oral sex merely resulted in a sexual coercion charge.
The prison term for rape will remain unchanged at between three and 12 years.