Understanding consent

When you’re having sex, or doing something intimate with another person, it’s important to be sure that they want to be doing it too – that they have consented. Even if you’re in a relationship with someone it’s important to make sure your partner agrees to any sexual act every time.


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  • Consent is showing or verbally communicating a clear ‘yes’ to your partner. If you’re not sure if someone is consenting, ask
  • To be able to consent, a person must have both the capacity to say yes and must understand what is happening and what they are agreeing to do
  • The absence of “no” doesn’t mean yes. Someone might have been pressured or frightened into doing something they don’t want to – this means they haven’t consented. If you are not sure if your partner is consenting, ask
  • Everyone has the right to say no to any kind of sexual activity, or to change their mind at any time before or during sex
  • It’s also important to remember that there are some groups of people who cannot consent under law. If someone is not physically or mentally capable of making a decision to have sex – or they can’t understand what they’re agreeing to – they cannot give consent. For example, if someone is very drunk or intoxicated when they agree to sex, the law recognises that they don’t have the capacity to give ‘true’ consent
  • The age of consent in the UK is 16