Sexual Offences Law

Sex between men was legalised in Scotland in 1980, and the age of consent for straight and gay sex was brought into line in 2001.

However, after these laws were amended, the law on same-sex sexual offences in Scotland was unclear. The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 means that sexual offences law in Scotland is now far more equal than it has been in the past. 

  • There is a statutory definition of ‘consent’ to sexual activity
  • There is a statutory offence of rape (as opposed to the previous common law offence), and this is also applicable to males and trans women
  • There is now a statutory offence of rape with an object (previously, this would be classed as indecent assault, a less severe crime)
  • The discriminatory phrases ‘sodomy’ and ‘gross indecency’ have been removed from the text of the law, and a new set of fully gender and sexual orientation neutral offences has been established

The Act has also introduced and clarified a number of other elements of sexual offences law, which will hopefully lead to increased conviction rates for rape and other sexual offences in Scotland.

More information about the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 can be found here.


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