Know what consent is and why it's important.

What is consent?

Consent is giving permission for something to happen or an agreement to do something. Sexual consent means freely agreeing to sexual activity.

The age of consent for any form of sexual activity is 16, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation.

Sex should be fun and pleasurable for all people involved. It’s good to discuss your likes, dislikes and what you are happy doing with a partner before you engage in any sexual activity.

Remember, you can withdraw consent at any time during sex if you want to stop. If you are unsure if someone is consenting then it’s simple, just ask!

Sometimes people feel pressured into giving consent because they have been pestered, intimidated, or faced physical or emotional threats. Due to this, they are unable to consent, as consent needs to be given freely. If you are feeling pressured into giving consent, then the person is not respecting you.

It’s OK to say no.

What does the law say?

Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, a person must have the freedom, capacity and choice to consent to sexual activity.

  • Freedom – means that they are not under pressure, whether physical or emotional, to have sex.
  • Capacity – if someone does not have the mental capacity, or are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Choice – they are able to say no if they wanted to.

Consent in action

If someone is not physically resisting or verbally refusing sexual contact, you can’t assume that they are giving consent. You won’t be ‘ruining the mood’ if you ask for consent, or ask what activity your partner would like to do, don’t assume you know!

Here’s what is and isn’t considered consent.

  • If someone doesn’t say no, that does not mean that they are saying yes.
  • Remember, if you are unsure, stop and ask.
  • If someone says no or tells you to stop, you must stop what you are doing or you will be breaking the law.
  • If someone is asleep, unconscious, drunk or high, they cannot give consent.
  • If someone consented to sex when they were awake and they have fallen asleep or passed out, you have to stop.
  • You have to get consent each and every time you engage in sexual activity, even if you have had sex with that person before!
  • Even if you are in a committed relationship, you still have the right to say no to sexual activity and have to give consent.
  • If you are too drunk or high to understand what is happening, you are unable to consent to any sexual activity.
  • Before you engage in any sexual activity, know what you want and don’t want, this will make it easier for you to consent.

Proper consent is an enthusiastic yes, not an absence of no. Sex should be free from pressure and full of pleasure!