Changes in the Law on Sexual Offences

Since 2003, a number of activities which were previously illegal are now legal.

Adult men having sex in public can no longer be charged with gross indecency, though it is still illegal to have sex in a public toilet, and in certain circumstances in public places. Buggery is also no longer an offence. The age of consent for sex between men is 16. These changes to the law on sexual offences were made following the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and apply retrospectively, which means that the new law applies to convictions for offences that were illegal before the law was changed. For more information on cottaging and cruising today, see Galop’s information on Cottaging, Cruising and the Law.

Although the above are no longer sexual offences, you may have a past conviction for:

  • Gross indecency
  • Buggery
  • Consensual sex with a male between the age 16 and 21

A record of these offences will be held on the police national computer (PNC) even if they are spent and would be disclosed following a standard or enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check.

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