LEAF has played a significant role in advancing Canadian sexual assault laws through a feminist and equality lens. Freedom from violence, including sexual violence, is a necessary condition for gender equality.
LEAF has been involved in nearly every significant change to the law of sexual assault in its 35 years of existence, including intervening in almost every precedent-setting Supreme Court of Canada case to ensure that the Court gave full protection to complainants’ rights to equality, privacy, and dignity.
In 1988, LEAF intervened in the Canadian Newspapers Co. v. Canada (Attorney General) case to ensure that sexual assault victims would have a right to prevent publication of their names.
Since then, LEAF argued before the Supreme Court that:
- rape myths have no place in Canadian courts;
- consent requires affirmative communication;
- survivors of residential school sexual assault should be compensated;
- women should not be deterred from reporting their assaults because they wear a niqab and
- women sexual assault complainants labelled with intellectual disabilities deserve equal access to justice.
Although the Supreme Court of Canada has clearly stated that myths and stereotypes about complainants have no place in sexual assault law, they continue to permeate too many sexual assault trials, undermining the equality rights of complainants. LEAF will continue our advocacy to ensure that those experiencing sexual violence are treated with equality, dignity and respect before and under the law.