Previously, in a couple of Weekend News-Surfing posts, I’ve had cause to comment on Scotland’s woefully inadequate sexual offence laws.

Well, happy days, because the new Sexual Offences Bill has now been passed.

One Green MSP (Patrick Harvie) abstained, all other 121 votes were in favour.

A rudimentary Google search did not turn up any newspaper-quoted reason for his abstention, but his latest twitter update (when, oh when, will people stop doing this kind of thing?!) which is featured on his own personal website, says this:

Patrick Harvie MSP twitter quote

Patrick Harvie MSP twitter quote

“Listening to politicians debate drugs and alcohol is bad enough, but hearing them debate sex is just dismal.”

Given that the news of the Bill’s passing was reported on the BBC website at 18:21 UK time (GMT+1), I think it’s fair to assume that we’re looking at the same thing here.

You know, I can’t speak from personal experience (of either circumstance), but I reckon that having been raped and knowing that under the old laws you’ve got a whelk’s chance in a supernova of getting a conviction is a bit more fucking “dismal” than sitting in a debate about how those laws can be made appropriate and helpful.

Also, and I can’t quite believe I’m having to say this when talking about a sexual offences bill, but seriously: sex and rape are not the same thing. That’s why we legislate against one and not the other, and it’s a pretty bloody basic distinction. Consensual activity: not a crime. Nonconsensual activity: should be a crime, if it isn’t already.

Anyway, that’s my one small gripe over. The good news is, everybody else was in favour, and the bill is really very good. I read it, in its entirety, when I researched it last time, and you can read that there, so I’m not going to do it again. Instead, I’ll leave you with this comment from Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill:

“This is a journey, not simply in terms of legislation, but in terms of Scotland becoming a modern, progressive country, recognising the position of women and treating them with the respect they are entitled to.”