What does the law say about consent?
The law and LGBTQ+ communities can have a complicated relationship, with past Australian laws criminalising consensual sex between men; and many people being reluctant to contact police to this day; due to a fear of discrimination and/or minimisation. However laws about consent are there to keep all people safe.
The age of consent for sex in most Australian states is 16, except for South Australia and Tasmania where the age of consent is 17.
In NSW there are also laws which make grooming people under 16 years of age illegal. Grooming may occur when an adult exposes a person under 16 to sexual materials, or gives them gifts, alcohol or drugs with the intention of engaging that person for sex. For more information around dating and sex for young people have a read of this website.
Other important things to know:
- affirmative consent is now the law in NSW, which means that if you want to have sex with someone, then you need to do or say something to find out if they want to have sex with you too. You can find out more information about the new laws at this website
- if someone is unconscious or asleep, they cannot give consent, do not initiate if someone is in this position, or if they already consented and fall asleep/ become unconscious during sex you must stop immediately.
- NSW legislation says that a person does not consent if they are so affected by alcohol or another drug as to be incapable of consenting to the sexual activity. You can read more information about consent and alcohol and drug use here.
If reading this content has caused you distress, or made you think you may need support, you can find an LGBTQ+ affirming service here.
Click here to go back to the home page of this toolkit.