Cottaging is looking for or having sex in a public toilet.

Where do people go cottaging?

Cottaging happens in toilets that are available for use by members of the public, including toilets in the street, shops, leisure centres and other public transport venues such as train stations.

What does the law say about cottaging?

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it illegal to procure or engage in sex in a public toilet and it is against the law for both gay and straight people. You can risk being arrested for cottaging regardless of whether you are being discreet or not. For example, having sex in a cubicle behind closed doors is still illegal. 

Voyeurism is also against the law. It is illegal to seek sexual gratification by observing/recording/broadcasting another person doing a private act (such as undressing, having sex, or anything you would not ordinarily do in public). This is designed to protect you from being watched without your knowledge or consent via anything from hidden webcam to a hole in the wall. The law exists to protect you, and prosecute people caught with their pants down. 

If you are arrested you are entitled to free legal advice and should ask for a solicitor to be present. You are only required to give the police your name and address. The police may ask you for proof. You do not have to give information about your job or where you work.

If you feel that you have been unfairly treated by the police (or others) while cottaging, you should contact Galop for more advice. You can call their helpline on 020 7704 2040 or report an incident at their website,