I am curious as to whether there is any prohibition, in England & Wales, on discussing sexual content in public. The public location could include a street outside, or perhaps an office environment.

This could be two mature partners discussing sexual acts mutually and consensually in public, whilst there are others in close proximity and able to hear the full conversation.

This perhaps could be a Public Order Offence, if somebody was alarmed or distressed? I was hoping someone could clarify which Section of which Act this falls under?

  • An office environment is not a public environment. Jul 4, 2022 at 2:59
  • in what manner is it discussed? Are they glossing over the details or are they going into every detail so you could pretty much record it and have an audioplay?
    – Trish
    Jul 4, 2022 at 6:53
  • @RibaldEddie I was hoping for an answer which would cover both scenarios (private office environment and a public street).
    – questioner
    Jul 4, 2022 at 15:51
  • @Trish Going into a lot of naughty detail.
    – questioner
    Jul 4, 2022 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


At common law there is an offence of outraging public decency. According to the Law Commission's report Simplification of Criminal Law: Public Nuisance and Outraging Public Decency:

The offence can consist of any act or display fulfilling the following conditions:

(1) it must be lewd, obscene or disgusting to such an extent as to outrage minimum standards of public decency as judged by the jury (or other tribunal of fact) in contemporary society;6

(2) it must occur in a place which is accessible to or within view of the public;7 and

(3) two or more persons must be present during the act or display, whether or not they are aware of the act or display or are outraged by it.

I don't think s5 Public Order Act 1986 (as amended) could be used as the words or behaviour must be threatening or abusive.

  • But can an act mean talking? I guess an office not open to the public would not count as a public place? By two people I assume one person is myself, but would the second person be someone I am talking to about sex or did they mean a third party to the conversation?
    – questioner
    Jul 5, 2022 at 13:36
  • If that question made sense @Lag
    – questioner
    Jul 7, 2022 at 20:43

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