Consent to a Sexual Activity After a Lie

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This article explains whether consent to a sexual activity is valid when it is given after a partner lies about something. To consent means to agree.


Validity of Consent When a Partner Lies

The law doesn't always recognize a person's consent to a sexual activity when the consent is given after a lie. It depends on the type of lie.

For consent to sexual activity to be valid, the person giving the consent must know that the activity is sexual in nature and know about the serious health risks of that activity. If the lie concerns either of these things, the consent is usually not valid.

For example, a person who has a doctor's appointment consents to some physical touching for the medical exam, but this consent obviously doesn't include sexual touching.


Lies Creating a Serious Risk of Harm

Consent given after a lie about the sexual nature of the activity or the risks of this activity isn't valid if the lie exposes the partner to a significant risk of serious physical harm.

It is important to look at the facts of the situation to decide whether the consent is valid. For example, a realistic possibility of HIV infection is considered a significant risk of serious harm, but the possibility of catching the flu is not.

The person giving consent needs to know about the major health risks of the sexual activity. For example, if Johnny is HIV-positive, he must tell his partner about it before having unprotected sex so his partner can decide whether to accept the risk of being infected. If Johnny doesn't say he is HIV-positive and takes part in a sexual activity, it can be sexual assault if his partner, knowing the truth, wouldn't have consented.


Lies That Do Not Affect Consent

Some lies do not affect consent.

For example, imagine that Julian agrees to have sex with Clara because she told him she was rich and single. Julian's consent to the sexual activity is still valid even if he later learns that Clara is poor and married.

A lie only affects consent if there's a significant risk of serious physical harm to the partner. In this example, this risk does not exist.

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.