.If I go out on the scene, or go on a date with someone, I’m basically agreeing to sex, aren’t I?
No. Not unless you want to! Everyone has the right to give or withhold their consent to any sexual act at any time. Dressing up, dancing, flirting, getting drunk, making out… nothing gives anyone the right to force you to have sex in any way you don’t want to.
If I’m in a club, sauna, public toilet or cruising ground – or I meet someone through Gaydar, Grindr or another website – that means I’m agreeing to have sex, right?
No. You may meet someone through a website or App designed for people to meet up, with the assumption that you’ll have sex. Or you are in a place where sex happens. But the law says you can agree or not agree to any sexual act, whatever the circumstances. Whatever you’re both expecting, you have to negotiate and agree on what sexual activity to do together. And you have the right to change your mind at any point, even if you’ve talked about it or agreed beforehand.
What if I go home with someone – am I consenting to sex?
If someone invites you back to their home or hotel room – or they come to yours – it doesn’t mean that you are automatically agreeing to sex. You have the right to say no at any time. Similarly, if someone you’ve met agrees to come back with you, don’t assume they are consenting to sex.
As a sex worker, does it mean I’m agreeing to have sex with someone, e.g. when I meet a client or get in their car?
No. Sex workers have the same rights over their bodies and the same right to give or withhold consent as anyone else. Sex workers can be sexually assaulted and raped in the same way as anyone else. Any activity that you are coerced or forced into without your consent is sexual assault.
Can someone agree to have sex if they’re drunk or have taken drugs?
It depends how drunk or under the influence of drugs they are. If they can still make a free choice, then they can consent. Legally, it’s about whether your ability to make a free choice is so impaired by drink or drugs that you really are not able to decide.
Your ability to make a free choice can be limited for various reasons: drink and drugs, medication, mental health issues, learning difficulties or being asleep. If you’re so out of it that you can’t stand or talk properly, don’t know what you’re agreeing to, or can’t remember what you’ve done, then you probably don’t have the ability to make a decision about sex at that time.
If you’re with someone in this state, think very carefully about whether you have sex with them. You could be committing an assault if it later turns out they lacked the ability to give their consent. If in doubt, don’t do it.