Consent and the law

What does the law say?

The UK law is clear – having any kind of sex or sexual activity without consent is illegal and is rape or sexual assault.

The law says:

For a person to actively consent, they must agree by choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice.
If someone is asleep, unconscious, drunk, ‘on’ drugs, too young, or doesn’t understand what’s happening, then they haven’t got the capacity to give consent.
If there’s a consequence to someone saying “no,” for example, if they’re being manipulated, coerced, or given gifts/money in exchange for sex, then they don’t have any freedom to consent, and it’s non-consensual.

Age of Consent

In the UK, the legal Age of Consent for any form of sexual activity (regardless of gender or sexuality) is 16. However, there are additional laws in place depending on age, including laws to protect children age 13 years and under.

Sexual violence: legal definitions

When we talk about sexual violence, we mean any kind of non-consensual sexual activity.


Penetration by the penis of somebody’s vagina, anus, or mouth without their consent
Maximum penalty = life imprisonment

Rape by penetration

Penetration by a part of the body or anything else of the vagina or anus, without their consent
Maximum penalty = life imprisonment

Sexual assault

Unwanted touching of a sexual nature
Maximum penalty = 10-year prison sentence

But consent isn’t just about breaking or not breaking the law. Sex should be fun and pleasurable for all involved. Making sure that everyone is enjoying it makes you a responsible and considerate sexual partner.

Ultimately, getting consent means you get to have better sex! (so, why wouldn’t you?!)

Consent Quiz

What would you do?

Find out if you know when it's time to Pause, PlayStop.

Want to learn more about getting consent online and in real life?


#IGetConsent because it's important to respect each other's bodies and boundaries.

Jack, 17

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