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Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit

 
FAQ

Age of Consent for Sexual Activity

‘Consent’ is needed for all types of sexual activity. This means that all people involved must voluntarily agree to engage in the sexual act. Consent goes beyond whether or not someone said “No” or fought off a sexual advance. It means freely choosing to say “Yes” because you want to.


Consent is not obtained if:

  • the person says no
  • it is given by someone else
  • the person is unconscious or sleeping
  • the person is under the influence of alcohol/drugs
  • it is an abuse of power, trust or authority (ex: teacher, coach, etc.)
  • the person implies no through other words or behaviour
  • the person changes his or her mind while engaging in sexual behaviour

 

Age of Consent

The age at which a person is considered to be old enough to agree to have sex is legally defined. People that do not follow this law can be charged with sexual assault.

The laws around age of consent for sexual activity in Canada are outlined below. It should be noted that laws are the same for both heterosexual and homosexual activity. 

Under 12 years old

Consent is illegal

12 and 13 year olds

Consent is illegal (only legal if partner is less than two years older and not in a position of trust or authority and the relationship is not exploitative*)

14 and 15 year olds

Consent is illegal (only legal if partner is less than five years older and not in a position of trust or authority and the relationship is not exploitative*)
Married couples are exempt.

16 to 18 year olds

Consent is legal unless they are involved in exploitative sexual activity*.

Under 18: Anal sex

Consent is illegal, unless in heterosexual marriage.

*Exploitative sexual activity = sexual activity involving prostitution, pornography or where there is a relationship of trust, authority, dependency.


Alcohol and Consent

  • Alcohol is the most common drug used with sexual assaults
  • In some cases perpetrators take advantage of the fact that an individual is drinking heavily
  • In other cases the perpetrator tries to get an individual drunk by buying drinks, encouraging him/her to drink and pouring drinks with more alcohol than usual
  • In either case, when an individual is drinking alcohol he/she is legally unable to consent to sexual activity
  • Consenting to having a drink is not consenting to sexual activity
  • Consent really is that simple

See Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence or End Abuse in Lanark.ca for further information and support.




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Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
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