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Consent means giving permission for something to happen or agreeing to do something and being comfortable with that decision. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, or whether you’re straight, lesbian, gay or bi-sexual, if you’re planning to do anything sexual then both of you must give consent.
Consent has to be given freely and no one can be made to consent to something. It’s not consent if someone does something because they feel like they have to. You can also never assume that someone is giving consent – you have to be sure.
Consent is an essential part of healthy relationships and it’s really important to know what it is and the many ways to spot it. Both you and the person you’re with always need to consent before sex or any intimate activity.
If you want to do something sexual with your partner, the responsibility lies with you to check for consent, not with your partner to say ‘no’ if they don’t want to.
Someone may confidently tell you upfront, or they may only show subtle body language that they’re uncomfortable with the situation. Make sure you talk to your partner and that you’re aware of the signs to spot around consent.
If you don’t want to do something sexual or have sex, it’s absolutely OK to say or show that you don’t want to, and the other person should stop.
Talk to your friends or someone you trust if you feel you are being forced to take part in sexual activity you don’t want to. You can find details of organisations that can offer support here.
Sometimes your friends might not really understand consent or feel confident to seek it. If you hear them say things like “I didn’t really want to, but…” it may mean they are being pressured by someone. It might help to ask if they want to talk about it.
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