Strange days

UK makes hooking up illegal due to COVID-19

Bad news for anyone thirsting in the UK: legislators there have made sex with anyone outside the same household illegal for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Officially, the law bans any two or more people from congregating in an indoor place unless they share a household. The bill itself states “No person may participate in a gathering which takes place in a public or private place indoors, and consists of two or more persons.” The bill also prohibits staying overnight anywhere but home. Furthermore, amended language to the bill also states that anyone caught hosting an overnight guest can also be prosecuted.

“Afraid to say this is correct,” Human Rights Barrister Adam Wagner tweeted in response to the passage of the bill. “I can’t believe I’m about to tweet this. From tomorrow sex between two (or more) people in a private place who do not live in the same household is a ‘gathering’ between 2 or more people and is therefore illegal.”

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Anyone breaking the law can be fined £100. Enforcement remains another matter entirely.

Approval of the new, amended language hasn’t come without controversy, of course. For one thing, the governing body of Parliament is not required to vote on the new language, leaving it without democratic approval. Moreover, in the UK where sex work is legal, the new law could infringe on the rights of sex workers.

Legal scholar George Peretz shared his thoughts on Twitter: “As I read this, unless you live together, it’s now unlawful to have sex with your lover indoors, but fine outdoors (subject to public decency offences); but you can have sex with an escort indoors, as that is reasonably necessary for their work purposes,” he wrote.

Under present UK COVID-19 regulations, people may only gather indoors with persons outside their household for funerals, providing medical or child care, facilitating a move or for necessary work purposes.