Some people like to have sex outdoors or in public places. These are sometimes known as public sex environments and include woods, public toilets, parks and car parks.
People have sex in public for various reasons. They may enjoy the risk of being caught, for example, or like being watched by others. Perhaps they prefer the anonymity of sex where there’s little risk of being identified and they don’t need to talk (about having HIV, for example).
Whether you are in a relationship or single, there are a few things to remember if you have sex in public. The most important thing is to look after your health and safety.
If you decide to have sex in public this may be with strangers, people you know or your partner. It is important to use condoms, whoever you are having sex with, as it is easy to pick up sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhoea which can affect your HIV. Find out more about how to stay safe.
Using condoms (or Femidoms) can stop HIV from being transmitted to the other person and can also prevent an unwanted pregnancy. If you have sex with more than one person it is important to use a different condom with each partner.
If you have sex in a public place you also need to look after your personal safety. For example gay men (and bisexual men) have sometimes been the victims of homophobic attacks when they have been ‘cruising’ or having sex in public places.
If you are a heterosexual couple you might take part in ‘dogging’. This is where couples meet to have sex in public places where they know other people might watch them or join in. Usually the people having sex are in cars. Again, it is important to be aware of your personal safety, and if you are a woman it is not advisable to go to dogging events on your own.
If you are robbed or attacked in a public sex environment you should report it to the police to protect others. Contact your local police Community Safety Unit or let a third party - such as GALOP - know what has happened.
Always call 999 in an emergency.
If you are based in London then please feel free to report any issues to our PSE lead or call THT Direct on 0808 802 1221.
If you don’t know the person or people you are having sex with, it is advisable to be careful about where you meet them and where you go to have sex. Avoid public sex environments if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs as this will make you vulnerable to attack, robbery or making poor decisions about sex and safety.
There are legal implications to having sex in public. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 made changes to previous laws in England and Wales governing sexual behaviour.
Sexual activity in public toilets is still an offence but sex in other public places isn’t, unless it is witnessed or there is a reasonable chance that at least two members of the public might see what’s happening. In this case you could be charged with outraging public decency.
'Exposure' (showing your genitals with the intention that they are seen in order to cause alarm or distress) is an offence.
You may find sex in public exciting, but it also poses risks to your health and personal safety. If you want to talk to someone about this, give THT Direct a call on 0808 802 1221
See also: Telling sexual partners about your HIV ››
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 10/4/2018
Content Author: Kerri Virani
Current Owner: Health Promotion
Exposure, Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sexual Activity in a Public Lavatory, Sexual Offences Act 2003
Sex in Public, The Site (2012)
Can I Be Punished For Having Sex In Public?, Find Law UK (2012)Public Sex Environment Policy, Gloucestershire Constabulary (2011)
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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