age of consent in Canada age of consent in Canada

Canada’s Age Of Consent: 10 Fascinating Facts

Everything you need to know about the age of consent in Canada is in the article below.
Sexuality is a major aspect of human life. It revolves around who we are as a person. It relates to our vulnerability, sexual orientation, pleasure, and intimacy.
But it is important to look beyond that as well. Any sexual activity with a person has to have consent from both the persons
Knowing what the age of consent means is the first step to take. One needs to know what the age of consent stands for and how important it is in our society.
The age of consent is when a young person is legally capable of consensual sexual activity. The society we live in today is not the same as it was years ago. With changing times, we need to change the way we look at certain things.
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Source: Shutterstock
There are always higher risks of sexual assault. Our societal atmosphere is evolving at a rapid pace. Thereby, it is crucial to set a minimum age of consent to sexual activities.
Sexual activity with a person incapable of consenting falls under a criminal offence. The underage person is considered a victim of the case.
The involved partner, when found overage, is regarded as the offender by criminal laws. Setting an age limit means protecting an underage person from sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation includes molestation, harassment, sexual assault, and so on.

History and Societal Notions

In societies years back, consensual sex was just a matter of traditions and customs. Families and their long-followed traditions merely decided the age of consent.
In most cases, the age to consent to sexual activities was just a matter of hitting puberty. When an individual physically matures, they are capable of consenting to sexual activities.
Canada’s first criminal code consolidation began in 1892. It legalized 14 years old persons to consent to sexual activities.
 Until the 19th century, consent laws’ age was difficult to follow or reform in most areas. Most changes started in the late 19th century to build a better and safe society.
The mindsets of people regarding issues of sex took a shift gradually. People started becoming concerned about their social and legal attitudes.
Appropriate age of consent to any sexual activity felt more accurate and comfortable. Thus laws for sexual acts started to reform. Below the age of consent, sexual activity is illegal.
Laws concerning the age of consent can apply to any form of sexual activity or sexual purpose. It includes sexual touching, kissing, or sexual intercourse.

To know more details about the age of consent in Canada, please click here!

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Why Is It Important?

The main motive behind having a minimum age of consent is the protection of our youths. It also means protection from crimes like sexual assault.
Underage sexual activities can have serious health consequences. They include pregnancy, exposure to HIV, or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Early sexual activities happen out of peer pressure, usually in adolescent girls.

By now, you are aware of the concept of the age of consent and why it is important in society. Many of the offences in Canada revolve around the age of consent.

1. First Criminal Code of Canada in 1892

“The age considered as capable of consent to sexual activity is fourteen years or above.” That is, the minimum age bar set to consent to sexual activities was 14 years old.

In the year 1892, the Canadian Parliament laid down the criminal code. This was the first such code in the British Empire to be enacted by a self-governing jurisdiction.

It came into force a year later, on July 1, 1893.

This set age bar is the minimum age to consent to nonexploitative sexual activity.

A nonexploitative sexual activity is one that doesn’t involve:

i) a sexual relations with the position of authority.

ii) or position of trust between the partners.

It also includes the noninvolvement of pornography or prostitution.

A teacher, leader, coach, or any family member falls under persons in a position of authority or trust.

An exception was introduced into this criminal code in the year 1987. It then allowed people of the age group 12 years-14 years for consensual sexual activity.

2. Amendments of 1987

“Sexual contact with any person who is below fourteen years is strictly forbidden for adults (even if consented).” This statement is in accordance with the new changes made to the Criminal Code in 1987.
The criminal code laid down in 1892 was continued for over 100 years. However, in 1987 some new amendments were made, which were more gender-neutral.
Some new offences were introduced into the criminal code. They are “sexual interference” and “invitation to sexual touching.” So that no adult can be virtually engaged in any form of sexual acts with a person below 14 years old.

3. Reforming Laws: New Legislation in 2008

“Laws governing the age of consent to sexual activities were refined in the year 2008″.
From the set age of 14 laid back in 1892, it was increased by 2 years in 2008. That is, the age of consent to sexual activities rose from 14 to 16 years in 2008. This age limit is set for nonexploitative sexual activity.
The number of sexual predators was rising. The Government of Canada passed new legislation in 2008.
The Government of Canada proposed this bill to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 back in June 2006.
To protect the youth from sexual exploitation and to fight against it, the laws were reformed. The new legislation came into force on May 1, 2008.
The new act that was raised in 2008 is a part of the Tackling Violent Crime Act. It applies to all forms of sexual activity. This is the first time the age has been raised since 1892.
The 2008 reformed act maintained some exceptions. They were for already existing marriages of teens of 14 or 15 years old to adults. However, the act condemns such marriages in the future.
4. Close-in-Age Exemption
The 2008 legislation raising the age of consent in Canada came in with a few exceptions. The close-in-age exemption is one of these exemptions.
Close age exemption means that sexual activity with a minor is not a punishable offense if the age gap is 5 years or less.
Under the act reformed in 2008, no person below the age of 16 could consent to sexual activities. But there are some close-in-age exceptions for 12 years- 13 years old and 14 or 15. The close-in-age exceptions under the act are as follows.
i) 12 or 13 years old can consent to sexual activities with a minimum of fewer than two years older.
ii) Adolescents 14 or 15 years old can give their consent to sexual activity. Given that their partner is less than five years older than they are.
If you are 12 years old, you can give your consent provided that your partner is a maximum of 14 years old. And If you are a 14-year-old, you can consent to sexual activities with a person of 12-19 years.

5. Peer Group Age Exceptions: Ages 16 and 17

“Sixteen or seventeen-year-olds can have consensual sexual activity. But the other person involved must be a minimum of fourteen years old.”

So a person who is below 16 years and is close to the age group can agree to sexual activities.

But someone below 16 years old has sexual activities with a person older than their peer group. It is then considered a criminal offense.

It doesn’t matter whether the teen agreed or not. Legally their consent is not valid.

6. Non-valid Consents

Photo by Philipp Wüthrich on Unsplash
“Under specific situations, some consents are considered as not valid.” The conditions are as follows:
i) Minors under 12 years old cannot consent to sexual activities of any form under any situation.
ii) Teens under 18 cannot legally permit sexual activity with anyone over 18 years. And who shares a relationship of trust or authority with them.

7. Consents to Exploitative Sexual Activities

In Canada, the age of consent to exploitative sexual activity is 18 years or above.
Exploitative sexual activity includes prostitution and pornography. It includes any relationship of trust, authority, or dependency.
Any person who is 18 or above can be involved in any exploitative sexual activity. It includes prostitution and pornography.
On November 6, 2014, a new bill was introduced. It was called the protection of communities and exploited person act. It received Royal Assent to reform prostitution criminal laws.
The age of consent of 18 years was given to exploitative sexual activities. Also, some new laws were introduced. It was made to protect the dignity of all Canadians.
According to this Bill, prostitution sexual exploitation that impacts women and girls. The bill has main objectives or prospects:
i) Protection to the ones who sell their sexual services.
ii) To reduce the demand for prostitution as far as possible.
iii) Protection of communities from the harmful effects of prostitution.

8. Laws for Anal Sex

Canadian law treated anal intercourse differently in comparison to other sexual activities.
“Any person involved in the act of anal intercourse below 18 years is guilty of a chargeable offence.” And the person can be subjected to imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.
According to the laws reformed in 2008, the age of consent to sexual activities was 16 years. But still, anal intercourse was considered illegal at that age.
Unless performed by 18+ partners, it is considered a criminal offense or an illegal act.
LGBT+ rights organizations have opposed section 159 for a long time. They feel it discriminates against them based on sexual orientation.
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Photo by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash

Finally, the Government of Canada put forward a bill to decriminalize anal intercourse in November 2016. This legislation would abolish section 159 of the Criminal Code, making anal intercourse illegal until 18 years otherwise.

Changes to section 159 of the Criminal Code would mean considering all sexual activities as the same by law. It simply means people are free to be engaged in anything they want regardless of gender and preferences.

SUGGESTION BOX: Find similar articles below!

The age of consent to sexual activity is the same across entire Canada. But it differs from province to province in access to contraceptives and HIV testing.
Emergency contraceptives are accessible to anyone and everyone. There are no age restrictions, except for that in Quebec. The age of consent also differs for HIV testing in the different provinces.
And it is legal in Canada to go for an abortion. However, concerning parental consent, there are different rules and regulations in each province.

10. Sexual Interference

A person is considered guilty of sexual interference under the following cases:
i) sexual contact or any direct or indirect touching for any sexual purpose to a person below sixteen.
ii) indecent contact with a person below sixteen years via any object.
iii) invitation to a person below sixteen years for any sexual purpose or sexual assault.
In these cases, a person is considered guilty. They are accountable for imprisonment for a minimum of 10 years for ignoring sexual consent.

Closing Thoughts

The age of consent to any sexual activity is the same for both males and females. And it is vital to be the same, as the age of consent reflects the maturity of an adolescent in wise decision-making. It should be applied regardless of gender, sexual orientation, and preferences.

The age of consent is extremely vital to determine if someone can legally consent. It is the ultimate way to prevent child sexual abuse, sexual offenses at sexual act, statutory rape and child pornography.

 Let us know your views on these 10 facts about Canada’s age of consent in the comment section below.

Age of Consent Across The Globe Stats & Facts
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  • Kritika Hazarika

    Hola! This is Kritika. She is a part-time content writer, a full-time poet, and a Biotechnology graduate. She is the author of Dusk Till Dawn- her first poetry book which was published in 2018. To follow her writeups visit or check out her Instagram handle @ms.hazarika

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