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Sex and the law - What's illegal in the UK?


What’s illegal when it comes to sex and porn in the UK? We talk through some of the things that are a big no-no when it comes to the law!


SEX WITH SOMEONE UNDER 16

The legal age of consent for sex or sexual activity in the UK is 16 and sex with anyone under 16 is illegal.

(It’s worth knowing that if you are under 16 you can still access sexual health services though – read more about under 16s and sexual health services here)

SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO’S DRUNK/HIGH

Someone who is drunk or has taken drugs can’t consent to sex because alcohol/drugs can reduce your ability to make decisions. Sex without consent is illegal and is classed as rape or sexual assault. We always advise not having sex with someone if you know they’ve been drinking or if they’ve taken drugs.

SEX WITH SOMEONE UNDER 18 IF THE OTHER PERSON IS IN A POSITION OF TRUST

Even though the legal age of consent for sex is 16, it’s illegal for someone in a position of authority to have sex with someone under 18. This includes teachers, youth workers, police officers and healthcare workers.

SEX WITH AN ANIMAL

Also known as bestiality, sex between a human and an animal is illegal.

IMAGES/VIDEOS SHOWING SEX WITH ANIMALS

Obviously we’re talking about a human having sex with an animal here (or we’d be saying goodbye to all the mating scenes on nature shows!). It’s actually an offence to have images or videos of someone having sex with an animal in your possession.

IMAGES/VIDEOS OF A SEXUAL NATURE FEATURING ANYONE UNDER 18

Images/videos of a sexual nature which feature anyone under 18 are classified as indecent images of a child, even if the pictures are of you. It’s illegal to take nude or suggestive photos/videos if you’re under 18 and it’s illegal to send them or possess them.

SEXTING WITH SOMEONE UNDER 16

Any sort of sexting with someone under 16 is considered “sexual communication with a child” under The Serious Crime Act. Sexting someone aged 16-18 may also be an offence if the other person is in a position of trust/authority, like we’ve mentioned above.

PORN THAT COULD CAUSE SERIOUS INJURIES

An act which results in (or is likely to result in) serious injury to a person’s anus, breast or genitals is illegal. Examples of this include the insertion of sharp objects or the mutilation of breasts or genitals.

PHOTOSHOPPING SOMEONE’S HEAD ONTO SOMEONE ELSE’S NAKED BODY (E.G. A PORN STAR)

Even if you’re not actually sharing a naked photo of someone’s actual body, it’s still illegal to doctor an image to make it look like someone’s naked.

REMOVING A CONDOM WITHOUT THE OTHER PERSON’S KNOWLEDGE

This is also known as “stealthing” and is considered an offence as the circumstances of the sex have changed, removing the other person’s consent (they may have only agreed to sex with the condition that a condom is used). As we’ve said before – sex without consent is considered rape or sexual assault.

SHARING SEXUAL IMAGES/VIDEOS OF SOMEONE WITH THE INTENTION OF CAUSING THEM DISTRESS

Revenge Porn is the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person, without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The offence applies both online and offline, so it includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and e-mail, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.

WATCHING SOMEONE HAVING SEX WITHOUT THEM KNOWING ABOUT IT

It’s illegal to watch someone doing a private act (which could include being naked, masturbating or having sex) to get yourself off if they don’t know that you’re watching them (or haven’t consented to you watching them).

#sex #porn #law

LGBT Stoke is a service provided by the Sexual Health Prevention Team from Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust