Definitions of Sexual Violence, Sexual Harassment, and Consent

Definitions from Section 5 of the Sexual Violence Policy.

Sexual Violence

“Sexual Violence” means any sexual act or act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against a person without the person’s consent, and includes sexual assault, Sexual Harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism and sexual exploitation1.

Sexual Harassment

“Sexual Harassment” is included in the definition of Sexual Violence and means engaging in a course2 of vexatious comment or conduct based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome. This can include: implied or expressed rewards or benefits for sexual favours; non-consensual taking or posting of a sexual picture; aggressive or intolerant comment or slur (including cyberbullying or through social media); or uttering any sexual threat.


“Consent” is the active ongoing, informed and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. Consent cannot be given by someone whose judgment is materially impaired (such as by drugs or alcohol), unconscious, or otherwise unable to understand and voluntarily give consent. Consent can never be obtained through threats, trickery, coercion, pressure or other forms of control or intimidation and may be withdrawn at any time. Consent may be compromised where individuals are in a position of power, trust or authority over the person whose consent is required. The consumption of alcohol or drugs does not provide any excuse from obtaining consent.


  1. Definition taken from Bill 132, Sexual Violence and Harassment Plan.
  2. The OHRC’s Policy on “Preventing Sexual and Gender-based Harassment” states that in relation to the Human Rights Code definition of a “course” of unwanted behaviour, in some cases, one incident could be serious enough to be sexual harassment.