This article originally appeared on VICE AU.
Teens could be allowed to take, keep, and share nude photos of themselves and other teens under new laws rolled out by the Australian state of New South Wales government over the weekend. Children under the age of 18 who are caught sexting one another will now receive legal exemptions in certain cases—particularly when that sexting is consensual. Children will also be granted a “similar age” defence for consensual sex with a peer when both are at least 14 years old and the age gap between them is less than two years, the ABC reports.
The new laws aim to decriminalise "normal sexual development and experimentation among teenagers", the Government said, as well as protecting consenting children from being charged with possessing child pornography. They are part of a number of reforms being made across NSW in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Other changes will apply to the terminology around cases of sexual abuse in order to make them less ambiguous. An “act of indecency” will be more frankly referred to as a “sexual act”, while the offence of “indecent assault” will be redefined as “sexual touching”. It will also now be an offence to groom the parent or carer of a child for sexual purposes, the Newcastle Herald reported.
"The changes recognise sexual predators sometimes provide adults with gifts, money, and other benefits as a way of cultivating their trust and gaining access to their children," said Attorney-General Mark Speakman. “Those found guilty of this new offence will face a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment.”
Mark declared that the NSW Government’s newly-announced reforms and legislative changes are “putting the safety of children front and centre and fixing shortcomings in the law identified by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”