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- Worldwide ages of consent
This table lists different countries around the world, and shows the ages at which people of different sexualities can legally have sex.
This table should only be used as general guide - please also read the notes at the bottom of this page.
If more than one age is given then the law within that country or state varies according to region or circumstances. In particular, some countries have regional laws that may overrule the federal law. Also in some cases the age of consent is lower when partners are of a similar age. Where the symbol ? is used, information is either incomplete or unavailable.
In some countries the age of consent is higher for those taking part in commercial sex. In many countries the age of consent is higher when one partner is in a position of trust with regard to the other, or when one partner takes advantage of the other's immaturity. Age of consent laws often do not apply when the partners are married.
In this table, male-female sex is defined as vaginal or anal sex, and male-male sex is defined as anal sex. In some places the age of consent law applies to any sexual contact.
* The average age of consent does not include countries where it is illegal.
- In Queensland, the legal age of consent for anal intercourse is 18 (regardless of gender), while for vaginal intercourse it is 16.
- Although the Austrian age of consent is basically 14, it is illegal to have sex with someone under 16 by "exploiting their lack of maturity".
- In Brazil, authorities may not choose to prosecute if the younger partner is aged 14 to 17 and does not lodge a complaint.
- In Canada, unmarried persons under 18 cannot legally consent to anal sex according to national law, although provincial laws may vary.
- In Denmark, sexual intercourse is legal from the age of 15 in most cases. An exception is when the younger partner is an adopted child, step-child, foster child or the older person is entrusted with the education or upbringing of the younger person. In this situation, the younger partner must be over 18.
- In Finland, sex with someone under 16 is not deemed sexual abuse of a child if "there is no great difference in the ages or the mental and physical maturity of the persons involved." Similarly in Norway, a prison sentence may not be imposed "if those who have committed the act of indecency are about equal in age and development." In both countries, lesser punishments may nevertheless be imposed.
- In Germany, sexual intercourse is legal from the age of 14 in most cases. An exception is when the older partner is aged over 18 and is "exploiting a coercive situation" or offering compensation, in which case the younger partner must be over 16. In addition, it is illegal for someone aged over 21 to have sex with someone under 16 if they "exploit the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination".
- India's age of consent for heterosexual sex is 16 except in Manipur, where it is 14. If the partners are married then a lower age of consent applies (13 in Manipur and 15 elsewhere). A law banning "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" was overruled in a Delhi High Court ruling, meaning that consensual homosexual activities between adults are now legal. A full copy of the descision can be found on the Naz Foundation
- Although the age of sexual consent in Japan is 13 years of age, prefecture law usually overrides federal law, raising the age up to 18.
- In Mexico the federal law varies according to the age gap between partners and is often overruled by regional laws.
- In Papua New Guinea, anal sex is illegal in all cases. The age of consent for vaginal sex is 16 for females and 14 for males.
- Paraguay sets the age of consent at 14 within marriage and 16 outside of marriage.
- The age of sexual consent in the Philippines is 12 for all, but contacts with minors (under 18) are an offence if the minor consents to the act for money, gain or any other remuneration or as the result of an influence of any adult person.
- In Portugal it is illegal to perform a sexual act with a minor between 14 and 16 years old "by taking advantage of their inexperience".
- Although Thailand's age of consent is usually said to be 15, the laws can be interpreted to allow prosecution for sex with someone under 18.
- Anal sex is illegal in Tonga regardless of age and gender.
- In some U.S. states a lower age applies when the age gap between partners is small, or when the older partner is below a certain age (usually 18 or 21).
- It is illegal for an American citizen or resident to have sex in another country with someone aged under 16, unless the age difference is less than 4 years, in which case the minimum age is 12.
- Under some circumstances it is possible for members of the U.S. military to also be charged under state laws.
We rely on the help of our readers to keep this table as accurate and up-to-date as possible. If you know that the age of consent in your country differs from that given above, and if you can supply good references to prove it, then please contact us. Please note that AVERT will not answer personal enquiries about age of consent.
This page is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used to inform personal decisions. If you are in any doubt about the age of consent law in your region then please seek expert legal advice.
Last updated April 06, 2010
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