Thousands of Ontarians are speaking out after the Ontario Court of Appeal released a ruling earlier this week. The new move would allow intoxication to be used as a defence in court for sexual assault and other violent crimes. The court states that it is unconstitutional to convict someone who is unaware of their actions.
Since the announcement, thousands of Ontarians have voiced their opinion against the ruling, and a petition has started on Change.org.
As of Friday morning, over 35,000 people have signed "Stop the Ontario Court Of Appeal from using Intoxication as an Excuse for Sexual Assault."
"This decision is dangerous. Sexual assault offenders need to be brought to justice and that means that perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions and sentenced accordingly. This ruling is a disservice to everyone in Ontario," read a statement from the petition.
Although some Ontarians are fighting back, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association has expressed that the concerns are exaggerated.
Cara Zwibel, a director at the non-profit organization, has said that she doesn't see the ruling as a problem.
Ontario Court of Appeals passes new ruling that is yet another ASSAULT on women! Intoxication is now an excuse for… https://t.co/W9naB0KDvQ— Dr. Jill Andrew (@Dr. Jill Andrew)1591285060.0
“I don't see it as seriously undermining the rights of victims,” Zwibel said to the Canadian Press via CP24. “This is a rarely used provision; it's not this widespread, systemic concern.”
Intoxication has not been accepted as a valid defence in violent crime cases or sexual assaults in Ontario since 1995.
However, this was changed after recent instances in which two separate young men who were high on drugs either killed or injured their families.
The Women's Legal Education and Action Fund have said that the intoxication ruling "risks sending a dangerous message that men can avoid accountability for their acts of violence against women and children through intoxication.”
The court, however, has stood by their ruling. Justices David Paciocco, David Watt and Peter Lauwers have said that an individual must know what they are doing if they are to be charged with committing an offence, the Canadian Press reports.
The court maintains that the law "enables the conviction of individuals for acts they do not will."