Deciding to have sex with someone is a big step. The decision is up to
you. If you feel pressured to have sex, or if you’re not sure, you can
say no. The other person must respect your choice. If they physically
try to have sex with you without your agreement, they will be committing
When can I have sex? What are the ages of consent in Tasmania? Who cannot have sex with me?
What you need to know – in brief
It is never okay for any person to have sex with another person who is under 12.
If you are 12-14 years old a person can have sex with you if you agree and they are less than 3 years older than you.
If you are 15-16 years old a person can have sex with you if you agree and they are less than 5 years older than you.
Once you turn 17 another person who has also turned 17 can have sex with you if you both agree.
If you feel unsure about someone’s age, it is always good to check.
When the law is broken, the police and courts may get involved.
There are services that can help you with how you’re feeling, safe sex, relationships, sexual abuse and the law.
What you need to know – in full
14 year old Tom (not his real name) from Tasmania sent a Lawmail to us asking:
Is it against the law to have sex with my 18 year old boyfriend?
We advised Tom that he is under the general age of consent
for sex in Tasmania (there are multiple ages of consent in Tasmania and
they apply equally to straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual sex and to people
of all genders). He was told that even if he is willing to have sex
with his boyfriend, it is still against the law for his boyfriend to
have sex with him. His boyfriend (not Tom) could face a serious criminal
charge, jail and be placed on the sex offender register. Tom was also
told that once he turns 15, he and his boyfriend can have sex legally in
Tasmania because his boyfriend is less than five years older than him.
Tom was also given referrals to local services he could contact if he
wanted to discuss safe sex.
In Tasmania, there are a few different ages of consent
imposing limitations on when and with who you can have sex. They exist
to balance your human right to choose when and with who you will have
sex and your human right, as a child or young person, to be protected
from sexual abuse, particularly by adults. If you have been sexually
abused, the experience and impact of that will be different for you than
for anyone else, but whatever your reaction, it is a normal response to
an extreme situation. You are not to blame. Please also see our pages
on Sexual Assault, Indecent Assault and Child Abuse.
On this page, sex means when a penis is fully or partially inside another person’s vagina, anus or mouth.
So, sex here means sexual penetration – we are not talking here about
kissing or touching that does not involve sexual penetration. We are
also not talking here about the additional laws applying to sex that is
filmed, photographed or distributed online or by phone (for that see our
Tasmanian Sexting page).
The age of consent is the age at which the law says you can agree (consent) to have sex.
If you are under the age of consent, the law says that you cannot
legally agree to have sex. So even if you say yes to sex, a person who
has sex with you can be charged with a serious criminal offence, jailed
and placed on the sex offender register.
In Tasmania, there are a few different ages of consent imposing
limitations on when and with who you can have sex, explained below.
- When you are under 12 years old, no one is allowed to have
sex with you. (A person who had sex with a child under 12 has committed
serious crimes, called rape and sexual intercourse with a young person
and can be charged, jailed and placed on the sex offender register).
- When you are 12 to 14 years old, a person can legally have
sex with you only if: (1) you agree to it AND they were less than 3
years older than you. (A person who had sex with a 12 to 14 year old
outside of these limited situations has committed serious crimes, called
rape and sexual intercourse with a young person, and can be charged,
jailed and placed on the sex offender register).
- When you are 15-16 years old, a person can legally have sex
with you only if: (1) you agree to it AND they were less than 5 years
older than you. (A person who had sex with a 15-16 year old outside of
these limited situations has committed serious crimes and can be
charged, jailed and placed on the sex offender register).
- When you are 17 years or older, another person 17 or older
can have sex with you if you both agree to it. (A person who had sex
with someone who is 17 or older (but who did not agree) has committed a
serious crime, called rape, and can be charged and jailed).
- No member of your family is allowed to have sex with you. (A
person who had sex with a child or young person who is a member of their
family has committed a serious crime, called incest and possibly also
rape and sexual penetration of a young person, and can be charged,
jailed and placed on the sex offender register).
If you are confused about the law (it is confusing so don’t worry), please send us a Lawmail.
Agree (consent) means free agreement to sex. It is more than merely
submitting to sex. A person does not freely agree to sex when: (1)
submitting because of force or fear; OR (2) they are being restrained
against their wishes; OR (3) they are asleep, unconscious or severely
affected by alcohol or another drug; OR (4) mistakenly believing that
the sex is for medical or hygienic purposes. There are other ways too in
which the law says that a person has not freely agreed to sex. Lawmail can advise you if you have any concerns about free agreement (consent) during sex.
Family means your parent, your grandparent, brother, sister, half- brother or half-sister.
Sex offender register: All adults who have committed a sex crime
involving a child are automatically included in a register of sex
offenders. Child sex offenders under the age of 18 years may also be
included in the register by a court order. Registered sex offenders are
required to keep the police informed about their personal details and
whereabouts. They are also required to report the names and ages of
children with whom they live or have regular contact. Registered sex
offenders are also prevented from engaging in child-related employment.
Deciding to have sex with someone is a big step. The decision is up
to you. If you feel pressured to have sex, or if you’re not sure, you
can say no. The other person must respect your choice. If they
physically try to have sex with you without your agreement, they may be
committing a crime.
If you are thinking about having sex, you need to be aware of the
risks that are involved which include getting a sexually transmissible
infection (STI) like chlamydia and blood borne viruses like HIV. Another
risk is unplanned pregnancy.
For information about how you can protect yourself against the risks
of unsafe sex, contact Family Planning Tasmania or visit their website
(see contacts below).
All the services below are free for young people and the 1800 numbers operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They are not the police or a government department, and you do not have to give them your name if you don’t want to.
- To talk to someone about relationship issues that you are experiencing or if you are unclear about where to draw the line between what's ok and what's not, please call 1800 MYLINE (1800 695 4631800 695 463 FREE)
- If you have been sexually abused or assaulted you could call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 7321800 737 732 FREE)
- a National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling
Service. This is a 24 hour counselling, support and referral service for
anyone whose life has been impacted by sexual, domestic or family
violence, or you can visit them at: www.1800respect.org.au.
- Family Planning Tasmania provides confidential sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including a full
range of safe and effective contraception;
clinical sexual and reproductive health support; and expert advice on
safe sex, unplanned pregnancy and respectful relationships. Call Family
Tasmania on 6273 9117, visit their website at
http://www.fpt.asn.au/ and follow them on Facebook.
For any legal questions you have, send us a Lawmail and
we can give you confidential, free legal advice, information and
referrals to local services. Make sure to include your postcode so we
can provide you with the best referrals
This page was last reviewed in December 2013.