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Gay Times Law by Clive Sanders LLB

2 : Cruising/ Cottaging & Group Sex
Summary of Cruising/ Cottaging & Group Sex Law

Group gay sex/orgies

Group sex at private clubs or parties is now legal.

Up until November 2003 gay group sex was specifically illegal in the UK. However, in the European Court of Human Rights case ADT v The United Kingdom 2000 it was held that UK had violated the Applicants rights to privacy contrary to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In this case ADT was charged with Gross Indecency following a search of his house where video tapes were found with footage of him and up to four others having sex at his home. Following the ADT ruling the government was forced to change the law.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 which came into effect on 1st May 2004 has completely done away with most of the old discriminatory law such as indecency between men and group sex between men which used to discriminate unfairly against consensual homosexual activity.

Public Sex
Sex in public toilets is specifically illegal under s71 Sexual Offences Act 2003:

(1) A person commits an offence if-

  • he is in a lavatory to which the public or a section of the public has or is permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise,
  • he intentionally engages in an activity, and,
  • the activity is sexual.

    (2) For the purposes of this section, an activity is sexual if a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person's purpose, consider it to be sexual.

    (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both.

    Other public or out door sexual activity is not dealt with under the Act. The original wording of the Act was amended by the House of Lords to be replaced with the slightly discriminatory section 71 set out above. Common law offences (eg Outraging Public Decency) and legislation such as s 5 Public Order Act legislation remains in force and in theory can be used by the Police in the absence of any other legislation governing public sex. In theory therefore sex in saunas, sex clubs and parks could be construed as illegal. In practice private establishments are invariably left alone by the enforcement authorities though Police attitude to park cruising varies.

    In Scotland gay group sex is legal. Until 2001 the position was governed by Section 13a Criminal Law (Consolidation) Scotland Act 1995 which specifically criminalised gay sex where more than two people were present. However, in 2001 the Convention Rights (Compliance)(Scotland) Act 2001 repealed Section 13a in order to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. If you want to enjoy group gay sex with impunity head north of the border though please note that the law on cottaging is the same as in England.

    Sex parties, threesomes, group sex and private orgies are now completely legal. Public sex in clubs and saunas whilst in theory illegal the Police will almost certainly turn a blind eye. Though, make sure there is no infliction of pain as different rules apply here (See Sado-masochism in the INDEX above right).
    Outdoor public sex in toilets remains illegal under s71 Sexual Offences Act 2003. As to sex in parks this remain illegal and while some police forces may turn a blind-eye, many police forces continue to enforce the law. My advice is if you are looking for casual sex then it is much safer both from legal enforcement officers as well as queerbashers to go to your local sauna, gay club or Internet cruising club.