New laws will make it easier to convict men who rape drunk women

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The Independent Online

Rape laws are to be changed to make it easier to convict men who have sex with drunken women without their consent.

Ministers are planning to tighten the definition of when a woman is capable of saying whether or not she wants sex. At present, women are judged capable of deciding unless they are unconscious. After the law change, which could appear in next month's Queen's Speech, juries will be able to take into account just how drunk a woman was in deciding if she was able to give meaningful consent. This could place a responsibility on men to establish whether "yes" means "yes" after just one glass of wine.

There has been growing concern that less than 6 per cent of rape allegations result in convictions.

Mike O'Brien, the solicitor general, said: "The issue [of consent] becomes particularly difficult where there is alcohol involved."

* The Cabinet is divided over new gay rights legislation after Tony Blair and Ruth Kelly lodged objections, it was reported last night. Mr Blair and Ms Kelly, who is a devout Catholic, want faith schools to be exempt from new laws that require organisations to provide services to people whatever their sexual orientation, according to The Observer.