Q & A
I’m 16 and gay, do I have to wait until I’m 18 before I can legally have sex?
No, the age of consent no matter what your sexuality is 16 in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It’s 17 in the Republic of Ireland.
This means that according to UK law, only those who are aged 16 or over are able to freely agree to any sexual activity, in full understanding of the consequences of having sex. This applies if you want to have sex with someone of the opposite sex, or the same sex.
It is illegal for people under 18 to take and distribute naked or indecent photos of themselves. Always remember, you should never feel you have to have sex until you're ready
Thinkuknow has more advice for LGBT young people here.
I’m thinking of using a LGBT dating website to meet someone, is it risky?
As a young person it can be difficult to find other LGBT young people but online dating can be very risky. Keep in mind that people can easily lie about themselves online.
Some adults who want to have sex with young people target gay young people online. They will know that LGBT young people might not have ‘come out’ to their family or friends. If they gain your trust and you come out to them, this can make them think they have power over you. They may also think that LGBT young people are more likely to keep anything that happens secret.
The internet can be a fantastic way to get information about sexuality and gender but if you talk to people you meet online about your sexuality it’s really important that you’re careful not to give them any information which would enable them to locate you in the real world. With that in mind be careful what you choose to reveal about yourself!
If you are exploring your sexuality or gender make sure you’re getting advice from a trusted organisation like Young Stonewall – www.youngstonewall.org.uk – or EACH - www.eachaction.org.uk - or Mermaids - www.mermaids.org.uk - or LGBT Youth Scotland - www.lgbtyouth.org.uk.
Remember, if you have sex with an adult and you’re under 16 it’s against the law and they are committing a crime. If you think an adult is trying to get you meet to have sex then report to the police or to CEOP.
I’m gay, where can I go for advice about sex and relationships?
You can talk to someone at Young Stonewall for advice on things relating to being gay, lesbian or bisexual. Call them on 08000 502020, email them at email@example.com or visit their website for more information www.youngstonewall.org.uk
LGBT Youth Scotland also have some great advice and information for young people, and a helpline for young people who live in Scotland. Call them on 0131 555 3940 or visit their website for more information www.lgbtyouth.org.uk
More advice for LGBT young people is available here.
People ask me for topless pics everytime I go on a chatroom – they can’t all be paedos can they?
Well it’s definitely not normal behaviour! You wouldn’t walk into a room of people you’ve not met and think it was fine to ask a stranger for a naked picture. If the site is moderated it’s a good idea to report the users asking you for these pictures to the moderator and to block them.
Ask yourself why someone would want you to send these pictures? What can someone do with them once they’ve been sent? How could they use these pictures to take advantage of you?
If you’re worried about things you’ve already sent online tell an adult you trust so they can help. You can report to CEOP if someone’s trying to make you do anything you’re not comfortable with online.
I’ve met someone online, we get on really well and it feels like they really understand me. We talk for hours every night and we share everything with each other. They’ve now suggested we meet up. What should I do?
Just remember that people can easily lie about who they are online. Some people may try to build relationships online with the intention of taking advantage of someone in real-life.
If anything happens that makes you feel nervous or you get a funny feeling about something, trust your instincts - they’re probably correct. Tell a trusted adult, call 999 or report to CEOP if you’re worried about something that’s happened.
It’s always risky to meet up with someone you’ve met online so if you do decide to meet them follow these common sense rules:
- Always meet and stay in a busy public place.
- Do take a trusted, responsible adult with you, not a friend. If the person you’re meeting with isn’t being honest taking a friend will put you both at risk.
- Make sure a friend or family member knows who you are meeting, where you are going and when you’ll be back.
- Don’t accept a lift from the person you’re meeting.
- Stay sober.
- Take your mobile phone, keep it switched on and topped up with credit.
- Your personal belongings can be stolen, don’t leave them unattended.
If you're worried about your safety or think you are in danger you should call 999.