LGBT individuals often ask, “What is the gay age of consent?”, or “Is the age of consent different for LGBT people versus heterosexuals?”. Here’s everything you need to know about California’s gay age of consent.  

In California, a “Romeo & Juliet” law exists to ensure young straight adults do not end up on the state’s sex offender registry. Young gay adults, on the other hand, are not protected under this law. However, California Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is pushing a bill that would cease the inequity and stigma LGBTQ young adults face throughout California.

The Difference

California law prohibits anyone over the age of 18 to have sexual intercourse with anyone under the age of 17. In most cases, individuals guilty of this crime are automatically placed on the state’s sex offender registry. A provision law states that in cases where a sexual partner is over the age of 15 and their partner is within 10 years of their age, the partner over the age of 18 will not automatically be placed on the registry.

Basically, if 19-year-old “Romeo” has consensual vaginal sex with 16-year-old “Juliet,” Romeo can likely be charged with statutory rape, but will not be automatically listed as a sex offender on a public database. Depending on the circumstances, a California judge can manually list Romeo as a sex offender on the registry.

However, if Romeo and Juliet engage in any consensual oral or anal sex, the provision is no longer applicable. This specifically hurts LGBT relationships, where partners often fall within the provision’s acceptable age window but are unprotected when engaging in oral or anal sex. LGBT young adults are often listed as sex offenders when engaging in consensual sexual relationships. These individuals would be protected under the provision, that is if the partners were not homosexual.

A Necessary Change

However, California Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, is pushing a bill that would cease the inequity and stigma LGBTQ young adults face throughout California.“SB 145 puts an end to blatant discrimination against young LGBT people engaged in consensual sexual activity,” Wiener said. SB 145, Wiener’s pro-LGBT provision, would protect individuals engaging in oral, vaginal, or anal sex from being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.

“This bill is about treating everyone equally under the law. Discrimination against LGBT people is simply not the California way,” Wiener continued.

Pride Legal, California’s #1 network of LGBT Lawyers, is dedicated to shifting California law to ensure equity and equality for California’s LGBT community.

Justice is not blind. The law should not treat a high school relationship differently due to sexual orientation or gender identity. California’s gay age of consent should be no different than the regular age of consent. Individuals who fall within the provision’s age window should not be treated differently based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This is why Pride Legal exists, to fight for the equality of California’s LGBT community.

“These laws were put in place during a more conservative and anti-LGBT time in California’s history,” Wiener said. “They have ruined people’s lives and made it harder for them to get jobs, secure housing, and live productive lives. It is time we update these laws and treat everyone equally.”

The California Senator has already garnered support from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, making it even more likely that the bill will be amended.

Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County District Attorney expresses her support for SB 145:

“Justice should be applied fairly and equally regardless of a person’s sexual orientation,” said Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles County District Attorney…I support this bill to correct the unjust application of the law. It may even lead to quicker plea deals for young adults in relationships with older teenagers and who fought charges for fear of being labeled “sex offenders.”

Who is protected by SB 145?

Wiener seeks only to protect LGBT individuals who fall within the provisions applicable age window. Under the bill, individuals engaged in sexual relations with minors age 14 years or younger would NOT be protected. These activities will still be classified as statutory rape and would land an adult on California’s sex offender registry. Wiener seeks to dismantle California’s laws blatantly discriminating LGBT young adults.

SB 145 would dismantle the LGBT discrimination still attached to California’s legislature.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one has been accused of statutory rape, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.