What is consent?

In a recent survey by the gay men’s health charity GMFA, 52% of the respondents said the gay community has issues when it comes to consent. Around 30% of respondents experienced sexual assault, sexual abuse or rape, and 62% said they had been touched or groped in a bar or club without giving express permission.

Consent in the gay community is no different to anywhere else. By law, a guy consents to sex only if he agrees to it by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to choose. Consent to one sexual activity doesn’t mean that he consents to anything else. It’s important to remember that people can withdraw their consent at any time during sex.

Pressuring or forcing someone into sex or taking advantage because they lack the ability to consent, after using too much alcohol or drugs, counts as rape and can all result in criminal conviction.

Survivors UK, a male rape and sexual abuse charity, says: “Only do what you both (or all) want. This is the heart of the consent message: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want and you shouldn’t make anyone do anything they don’t want. Just agreeing to meet up with someone via an app or stepping through the door into a sauna or chemsex party/chillout does not mean you are agreeing to whatever anyone else wants to do. You have to work it out as you go along. And the law says you can change your mind at any point.”

The charity has an information sheet on consent, particularly when drugs or alcohol are involved. They also have advice and information for anyone who feels they have had any kind of sex that they didn’t want to: https://www.survivorsuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Consent-and-Chemsex-Advice.pdf

If you are not 100% certain that the person you are having sex with is happy and knows exactly what is going on you should ask them before continuing.

You can read more about consent in a special issue of FS magazine from gay men’s health charity, GMFA.