Sex and the Law

When having any kind of sexual contact with someone, both people must consent to it happening, otherwise it is against the law.

A person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

Just because someone isn’t saying no does not mean they are saying yes

If someone is really drunk then they may lack the capacity to be able to consent. This means that any sexual contact at that time could be unlawful.

Consent is a continuing act

Although someone may agree to sexual activity they can always change their mind. Whether this is before or during, the other person must stop what they are doing. Consent applies in every instance, whether you are single, in a short or long term relationship or married. If you’ve had sexual activity with someone before, that does not mean they have to consent to it again.

If someone (man or woman) does not want sex then you cannot force them.

If you are in any doubt as to whether someone is consenting, or whether they have lost the capacity to consent, then don’t have sex.

In the UK you have to be 16 to have sexual activity with someone and this does not just mean penetrative sex but is defined as what a “reasonable person would consider sexual.” So it could be masturbation, naked touching or even touching over clothes – dry humping.

Under age sex is illegal whether there is consent or not.

So if a 19 year old and a 15 year old have sex, it wouldn’t be a defence for a 19 year old to say that a 15 year old was agreeing to it. The law is in place to protect young people.

However, even if you are under 16, you have the right to a confidential sexual health service for condoms, contraception, check-ups and advice. This means the clinic will not tell anyone they have seen you, unless they need to protect you or someone else from serious risk of harm.

Also, young women under the age of 16 can legally get an abortion without her parents knowing, but only if two doctors agree that she is mature enough and that it is in her best interests.

In Great Britain abortions are legal up to 24 weeks, although a termination at this late stage is very rare.

Looking at pornography is legal as long as it doesn’t feature: under 18s, sex with animals, torture, scenes of rape, sexual assault or violent scenes which are life threatening or likely to cause serious harm. You do, however, need to be over 18 to buy porn magazines or watch porn videos.

For more details on porn, sex and the law visit BISH UK.