1 min

Age of consent legislation comes into force

Raised from age 14 to 16; anal sex still set at age 18

Credit: (Brent Creelman photo)

Canada’s age of sexual consent will be raised from 14 to 16 as of May 1.

The Conservative government legislation passed through the House of Commons in 2007 unopposed by any party. Gay, medical and rights groups came together to fight the bill in Parliament and highlighted the legislation’s flaws.

The bill received royal assent in Feb 2008, and it is now officially in effect.

Opponents of the law have pointed out numerous flaws, including:

  • The legislation does not lower the age of consent for anal sex, which is still set at 18 years.
  • Having sex with someone when you’re in a position of authority was already illegal, so the new rules only serve to target consenting non-exploitative relationships.
  • The law may limit young people’s ability to get STI tests, safe-sex and pregnancy prevention information, and abortions, if youth feel unsafe disclosing their sexual histories to doctors and other professionals.
  • It is common for gay and lesbian youth to choose sexual partners outside of their age group, often beyond the arbitrary five year “close-in-age” exemption set by the new law.
  • Despite government rhetoric that the bill would “protect” youth from “predators,” studies show most sexual abuse occurs within the family. The new law does not address that.