sex and the law
Here are some of the main things the law has to say on sex and relationships
- In law, the phrase ‘age of consent’ is used. This means the age someone needs to be before they can agree to have sex.
- The ‘age of consent’ in Scotland for boys and girls is 16. This is the case whether you’re straight, lesbian or gay. So, if you’re both over 16, and both want to have sex, then it’s legal. If one of you is under 16, then the other is breaking the law.
- Most people wait until they’re 16 to have sex. If you’re aged 13-15 and having sex, then you or your partner might be at risk of being prosecuted – however this is not common if both young people are happy and one person is not forcing the other to have sex. It is always wrong and against the law to force someone to have sex, no matter what age you or they are.
- To help protect young people, the age of consent rises to 18 when your partner is or has been in a position of trust (e.g. someone who has cared for you like a parent, a teacher or a youth worker).
Whether or not you have sex with someone should always be your decision.
Sex is only legal if you've given your consent (permission) – this
means you don't have to have sex unless you want to and no one should
The law says you can't give proper consent if –
- you've been drugged,
- held against your will,
- are asleep,
- can't say no because you have a disability,
- you're being forced into it or because you're afraid the person will be violent to you.
If anyone makes you have sex in these situations, they have committed
a serious crime. That crime is called rape.
If you're made to do other sexual acts, or someone touches you in a sexual way when you didn't want them to, this is called sexual assault - and is also a crime. If you ever feel uncomfortable or under pressure to do anything you don't want to, tell somebody you trust.
If you want to have sex, make sure the person you want to have sex with really wants to. If you're not sure how keen they are, talk to them and if they don't want to have sex, put the brakes on straight away. The age of consent in the UK is 16. Having sex with someone below the age of consent is against the law and having sex with anyone under the age of 13 is a very serious offence.
For more information on Sexual Assault and Rape click here