Gay cruising In The UK
yes, there are gay cruising grounds in Edinburgh

Did you know there are many gay cruising and dogging grounds in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is home to several cruising and dogging grounds, did that surprise you?

Whether you love or loathe the idea of anonymous outdoor gay sex, it’s hard to escape the fact that gay cruising grounds are all around us.

You probably don’t even know, but from where you’re sitting or standing right now there’s probably a cruising or dogging ground just metres away from you in Edinburgh, and they’re a hangover from more homophobic times in the UK. At our last count, there were at least 7 known cruising grounds in Edinburgh and surrounding areas. The most popular are Sliverknowes Promenade and Blackford Hill.

Interested in all cruising grounds in Scotland? Check out Scottish gay cruising grounds here.

Why have cruising grounds become more popular?

Although we can’t say for sure, something has to be said about how the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown has affected the way in which gay, bi and curious men get sex. With saunas and bathhouses closed for the best part of three months, many more are yet to still open, guys who can’t, or don’t want to accommodate in their own homes are looking to other places. One of those will be outdoor venues.

Where did gay cruising come from?

Gay cruising is not a new phenomenon. It dates back to when sex between men was illegal in the UK. Finding a place where two men could be intimate with each other without too many questions being raised was tricky until it was realised that men’s public toilets were a perfect place.

These were named cottages because they actually used to look like quaint little cottages.

The act of finding sex in these public conveniences became known as “cottaging“.

The sex between men who would frequent a cottage would usually be anonymous. Gloryholes, a hole drilled between stalls in public toilets became a way in which this sex could remain faceless.

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To this day there are loads of cottages and cruising grounds in Edinburgh

Cottaging and cruising etiquette

Are there gay cruising grounds in Edinburgh?
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Generally speaking, not a lot of talking goes on when cruising. A series of looks and gestures would let others know what you were up to. At urinals, guys would stand, playing with themselves subtly to let others know that they were up for some play. Then if the feeling is mutual the pair could make their way to a cubicle for more privacy.

At cruising grounds, much of the same would happen, except the action took place away from public footpaths.

Is Cottaging Legal in the UK?

Cottaging is illegal in the United Kingdom under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and applies to both heterosexual and homosexual acts.

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The Sexual Offences Act 2003 doesn’t say however that sex in a public place is illegal. Cruising grounds and cottaging are two different spaces. Cruising grounds are defined as open spaces, where men can hook up with men, or straight couples can meet for sex (often referred to as dogging), as long as no members of the public can see you.

You risk being arrested if reported by a member of the public. If this happens you have the right to legal advice from an on-duty solicitor at the police station. If convicted you could be sentenced to 6 months in prison and /or a fine.

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