Sexual rights are very complicated and are covered in different pieces of legislation. Canada's laws set out rights to privacy, age of consent for various sexual activities, age of partners, father's and mother's rights and responsibilities, rights to have birth control, laws about child pornography and other laws governing sexual activities and responsibilities. It is your responsibility to make sure you aren't breaking the law when it comes to sex. Here are some things to know about sex and the law:
What is legal sex?
First of all, let's be clear about what we mean here when we say "sex". It means oral sex or sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal) and includes intimate touching. Sexual activities can be everything from touching for a sexual purpose to kissing to intercourse. For information on anal sex, see 'When do I have to be 18 to have sex?'
Sex is only legal when both people agree to it and are legally and mentally able to give permission to their partner. If you are passed out or sleeping, you cannot legally give consent. If you are drunk or stoned, you may not be able to think clearly enough to legally give consent. You can only legally have sex with someone who has said yes and in not under the effects of drugs or alcohol. If they say yes, but are under the effects of drugs or alcohol, it means no.
When do I have to be 18 to have sex?
A person who is under 18 cannot give their permission to have sex with a person who is in a position of authority or trust over them (like a teacher, coach, parent, babysitter, older friend). You must be over 18 years old to have anal sex unless you are married to your sex partner.
Just because a person says yes to one type of sexual activity, doesn't mean that they agree to everything. Even if someone shows a sexual interest one time they may not want to have sex at another time or in the future. Any sexual activity without consent is sexual assault and is a crime.
Being involved in a sexual relationship requires clear and direct communication. Each person in a sexual relationship is responsible for clearly giving and clearly receiving consent. If consent is not given, then it means no, and you must respect that.
It may be a crime for two teenagers, both under the age of 18, to possess nude pictures of each other for their own private viewing - even if their partner says its okay. If the pictures are sent to others this could also violate Canada's child pornography laws and the person who sent the photo could be charged. There are a few cases in the US where teen have been convicted for producing and distributing child pornography for sexting.
No matter what age you are, sexting could embarrass you now or in the future. Just imagine!! The photo of yourself that you thought was private could be deliberately or accidentally forwarded to others, put up on Facebook, YouTube or somewhere else on the Internet. Respect yourself and your partner by thinking twice about sexting.
The Sexuality and U website provides more information of sex and the law.