Ages of consent in Europe

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Main article: Age of consent
Age of consent - Global

The ages of consent vary by jurisdiction across Europe. The ages of consent are currently set between 13 and 18. The laws can also stipulate the specific activities that are permitted or differentially specify the age at which a given sex can participate. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age is that at which, or above which, an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another who is also at or above that age. In 2014, the self-declared state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus lifted the ban on sodomy, decriminalizing homosexual sex.[1] Other variables may exist, for close-in-age exceptions, for defences in Greece (applicable to heterosexual and lesbian sexual conduct only, not for gay male sexual conduct), however the age limit in Greece is mostly 15 for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender (as shown below in more detail). All other jurisdictions in Europe have an equal and gender-neutral age limit.

The below is a list of all jurisdictions in Europe as listed in List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Europe.

International obligations[edit]

Neither the European Union nor the Council of Europe have suggested any specific age of consent, and there has not been any effort so far to standardize the age across member states. However, many countries in Europe now have binding legal obligations in regard to the sexual abuse of children under 18. The Lanzarote Convention,[2] which came into effect in 2011, obligates the countries that ratify it to criminalize certain acts concerning children under 18, such as the involvement of such children in prostitution and pornography. Other acts that must be criminalized include:

"Engaging in sexual activities with a child [child is defined in Article 3 as "person under the age of 18 years"] where:

  • Use is made of coercion, force or threats; or
  • Abuse is made of a recognised position of trust, authority or influence over the child, including within the family; or
  • Abuse is made of a particularly vulnerable situation of the child, notably because of a mental or physical disability or a situation of dependence."

The age of consent is called "the legal age for sexual activities" and must be chosen by states at the age they see fit. (No specific age is recommended.) As of 2014, the convention has been ratified by 32 states, while another 15 states have signed but not yet ratified the convention.[3]

In the European Union (EU 28), there is a directive regarding the sexual abuse of children under 18, known as "Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography".[4]

Consent by age[edit]

Age Countries (links are to sections on this page)
13 Spain
14 Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia
15 Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Monaco, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden
16 Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Northern Cyprus, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
17 Cyprus, Ireland
18 Malta, Turkey

Some of these countries, however, have laws which offer increased protection for children who have reached the age of consent, but are still minors, for example by enacting laws which stipulate that it is illegal to engage in sexual acts with such children under exploitative circumstances (such laws exist in e.g. Austria, Germany, Lichtenstein, Portugal). These laws can be found mostly in the countries which have a lower age of consent.

Albania[edit]

Since 2001, the age of consent in Albania is 14, regardless of gender and sexual orientation. In the case of a girl, however, sex is illegal if she is over 14 but has not reached "sexual maturity", as provided by article 100 of the criminal code.[5]

Andorra[edit]

The age of consent in Andorra is 16, as specified by Article 206, which reads: "Whoever, without violence or intimidation, has had a carnal relationship with a minor older than fourteen years and less than sixteen years will be punished by a maximum penalty of imprisonment of six years."[6]

Armenia[edit]

The age of consent in Armenia is 16.

Article 141. Sexual acts with a person under 16.

Sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with a person obviously under 16, by a person who reached 18 years of age, in the absence of elements of crime envisaged in Articles 138, 139 or 140 of this Code, is punished with correctional labor for the term of up to 2 years, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 2 years.[7]

Austria[edit]

The general age of consent in Austria is 14, as specified by Section 206[8] of the penal code. (The term unmündig is specified in Section 74[9] of the penal code.) Paragraph 4 of Section 206 defines a close-in-age exception of max. three years.

However, Section 207b[10] of the penal code contains an exception to the general age of consent: if one of the partners is younger than 16 years of age and “not sufficiently mature to understand the significance of the act”, then the act is punishable.

History[edit]

The Austrian Criminal Code previously specified 18 as the age of consent for male homosexual sex in which the other partner was aged 14–18, while no equivalent provision existed for heterosexual sexual conduct; this was Section 209 of the Criminal Code. In November 1996, an amendment was put before the Austrian Parliament to remove Section 209; but the vote ended in a draw, and the amendment failed to pass. In July 1998, a similar amendment was put forward; it was voted down by the conservative majority. Section 209 came into force when homosexuality between males became legal in 1971.

On 24 June 2002, the Austrian Constitutional Court ruled that Section 209 was unconstitutional. The Section was later repealed on 14 August 2002. On 9 January 2003, the European Court of Human Rights held, in L & V v Austria, that Section 209 violated Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Azerbaijan[edit]

The age of consent in Azerbaijan is 16.

Article 152

Sexual intercourse with the person below the age of 16 years-old, as well as the same offences linked with satisfaction of sexual passion in perverted forms shall be punished by imprisonment up to 3 years.[11]

Belarus[edit]

The age of consent in Belarus is 16, as specified by Articles 168 and 169, which read: "Sexual relations, sodomy, lesbian acts or other actions of sexual character of an adult, reached eighteen years of age, with a person who obviously has not reached sixteen years of age, at absence of attributes of the crimes stipulated by articles 166 and 167 present codes, are punished by restriction of freedom of two years to four years or by imprisonment of two years to five years." and "Dissolute actions accomplished by a person, reached eighteen years of age, concerning a person who obviously has not reached sixteen years of age, at absence of attributes of the crimes stipulated by articles 166, 167 and 168 present codes, are punished by arrest of about six months or imprisonment of one year to three years."[12]

Belgium[edit]

The age of consent in Belgium is 16, as specified by Article 372, which reads:

"All indecent assaults on modesty committed without violence or threat, by a person or by aiding the person, of a child of either sex, aged less than sixteen, will be punished by imprisonment (of five years to ten years).[13][14]

History[edit]

The Belgian Criminal Code previously specified an age of consent of 18 for homosexual sex. This provision - Article 372(2) - was added in 1965 and repealed in 1985.

Bosnia and Herzegovina[edit]

Sexual activity with children younger than 14 is illegal under Article 207, which prohibits sexual acts with a "child", and a "child" is defined in Article 2(8) as a person under 14. However, Article 209 mentions a "juvenile" who is defined in Article 2(9) as a person under 18, although it is not clear if this article refers only to sexual acts performed in view of a minor under 18 or if it can be used also to punish sexual acts performed with the minor:[15]

  • Article 207, Sexual Intercourse with a Child: (1) Whoever performs sexual intercourse or equivalent sexual act on a child, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between one and eight years.
  • Article 208, Meaning of Terms as Used in This Code: (8) A child, as referred to in this Code, is a person who has not reached fourteen years of age.
  • Article 209, Satisfying Lust in the Presence of a Child or Juvenile: Whoever, in the presence of a child or juvenile, performs acts aimed at satisfying his own lust or the lust of a third person, or whoever induces a child to submit to such acts in his presence or in the presence of a third person, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between three months and three years.
  • Article 205: (2) prohibits sexual intercourse with a juvenile (defined as a person under 18) by "abuse of position".

Bulgaria[edit]

The age of consent in Bulgaria is 14, as specified by Articles 149 and 151 (1). However Article 151(2) has a provision for those who are over 14 and do "not understand the characteristics or the importance of the act."

Art. 151. (1) A person who has sexual intercourse with a person who has not completed the age of 14 years, insofar as the act does not constitute a crime under Article 152, shall be punished by deprivation of liberty for two to six years.[7]

Art. 149. (1) A person who performs an act for the purpose of arousing or satisfying sexual desire, without copulation, with a person under 14 years of age, shall be punished for lewdness by deprivation of liberty for one to six years.[7]

Croatia[edit]

The age of consent for all sexual conduct in Croatia under the new Criminal Code in force since 1 January 2013 is 15, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, regulated by Article 158.[16]

(1) Whoever performs sexual intercourse with a child under fifteen years of age or induces a child to commit sexual intercourse with a third person, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one to ten years.

(2) Whoever commits lewd act with a child under fifteen years of age or induces a child to commit lewd act on itself or with a third person, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between six months and five years.

However, there is a close-in-age exemption of three years.

History[edit]

Before the year 2013, the legal age of consent in Croatia was 14. Homosexual acts were illegal until 1977, when Croatia, then as a Yugoslav Federal Republic, changed its Penal Code. Age of consent was equalised in 1998.

Cyprus[edit]

The age of consent for all sexual conduct in Cyprus under the 2002 Criminal Code is 17, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

History[edit]

Until 1998, homosexual acts between men were entirely forbidden under Section 171 (1929). In 1989, Alecos Modinos, president of the Cypriot Gay Liberation Movement, brought a case to the European Court of Human Rights. In 1993, the Court held that the prohibition of homosexual acts was a violation of Article 8. In January 1995, the Cypriot Government introduced a Bill in the Cypriot Parliament that would have abolished the ban. Strong opposition from the Orthodox Church meant the Bill stalled when referred to the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee. The European Commission repeated its warning that Cyprus must follow the Court's ruling. In May 1997, again a government measure to repeal the ban failed because of the strength of the opposition. In April 1998, the Council of Europe set a deadline for compliance of 29 May 1998 and on 21 May 1998, the House of Representatives voted 36 to 8 in favour legalising homosexual acts. However it was set at 18 while heterosexual acts remained at 16.

In 2002, under pressure from the EU[17] the parliament finally ended the disparate provisions and changed the age of consent to 17 for both heterosexual and homosexual acts, under the revised Criminal Code.[18]

Akrotiri and Dhekelia[edit]

For both of these Sovereign Base Areas (British military enclaves) on the island of Cyprus, the age of consent is 16.

Czech Republic[edit]

The age of consent in the Czech Republic is 15.

Additionally, the section of the new Czech penal code 40/2009 Sb. about "crimes against family and children" contains § 202 which criminalizes a "seducing to sexual intercourse" aimed at persons under 18 years with any promise or provide of payment, benefit/privilege or profit for a sexual intercourse, masturbation, exposure or similar behaviour. This regulation was added to the old Czechoslovak penal code (140/1961 Sb.) adopted by the Czech Republic as § 217a by the amendment Czech act No. 218/2003 Sb. efficient since 2004 January 1.

History[edit]

The historic age limit in the Austrian Empire was 14 years by § 128 of the empire Penal Code from 1852.[19] Homosexual sexual intercoures (as well as intercourses with animals) were generally criminalized as "crime against nature" by § 131. The Austrian Penal Code was not replaced in Czechoslovakia before 1950. The Czechoslovak penal Code 86/1950 Sb. in § 239 elevated the limit to 15 years. Almost identic regulation contained Czechoslovak penal code 140/1961 Sb., which in § 242 reads: "A person who has coitus with a person younger fifteen (15) years of age or who sexually abuses such a person by other way shall be sentenced to imprisonment for at least one and at most eight years."[20] The new Czech Penal Code (40/2009 Sb., efficient since 2010 January 1) contents a similar regulation in § 187. Around 2008 and 2009, lowering of the limits of criminal responsibility as well as sexual restriction from 15 to 14 years was proposed by the Ministry of Justice and passed in Parliament within the new Penal Code 40/2009 Sb. efficient since 2010 January 1. Both changes were criticized. Before its efficiency, the amendment act 306/2009 Sb. changed both limits back to 15 years.[21]

Until 1961, homosexual sexual intercourses were generally illegal in Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak 140/1961 Sb. Penal Code, introduced in that year, contained still a crime "Sexual intercourse with a person of identic sex" (§ 244) but affected only a person older 18 years which have an intercourse with a person younger 18 years. Between adult persons, payment receipt or provision and public nuisance were reasons for criminalization. In 1990, the whole § 244 was removed by the Czechoslovak act 175/2009 Sb. efficient since 2009-07-01.

Denmark[edit]

The age of consent in The Kingdom of Denmark is 15 as specified by Section 222, part 1 of the penal code, which reads: "Any person who has sexual intercourse with any child under the age of fifteen will be liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding eight years."

Section 223, part 1, reads: "Any person who has sexual intercourse with any child under 18, who is said person's adopted child, stepchild or foster child, or who is entrusted to said person for education or upbringing, will be liable to imprisonment for any term not exceeding four years." This applies e.g. to teachers.[22]

The law in the Faeroe Islands and Greenland is equivalent although regulated in separate penal codes for these regions.

History[edit]

Male homosexual acts were legalised in Denmark (lesbianism was never illegal) with an age of consent set at 18, after a major reform of the Penal Code in 1930; At the same time the age of consent for heterosexual acts were raised from 12 to 15. In 1976, the age of consent was equalised at 15 for all acts[citation needed]. But sex with a child under the age of 12 gives double punishment, and sex with a minor at 15, 16 and 17 is illegal for a person in charge of this child.

Until 1866, interaction "against nature" [anal intercourse] was punishable with the stakes. However, until the late 18th century the rule was never used, and, when it came into rule, the convicts were always pardoned to 7 years in jail: exactly the punishment introduced in the Penal Code 1866 but now only for homosexual acts.

In the 1970s and 1980s in Denmark as well as in Sweden, it was legal to film sex between persons from age 12 and up, as was often practiced by film companies such as Color Climax.[clarification needed]

Estonia[edit]

The age of consent in Estonia is 14, as specified by Section 145 (Sexual intercourse with a child), which reads: "An adult person who engages in sexual intercourse with a person of less than 14 years of age shall be punished by up to 5 years’ imprisonment."[23]

History[edit]

Until 1992, male homosexual sex was illegal, the Estonian SSR Penal Code, Article 118, forbidding "anal intercourse between men". Due to regaining independence from USSR in 1991, the age of consent for male homosexual intercourse was fixed at 16, whereas the age for heterosexual intercourse was 14. The age of consent was equalised in 2001 when the law was amended, specifying an age of 14 for sexual intercourse.

Finland[edit]

The age of consent in Finland is 16, as specified by Section 6(1) (Sexual abuse of a child), which reads: "A person who has sexual intercourse with a child younger than sixteen years of age ... shall be sentenced for sexual abuse of a child to imprisonment for at most four years."

The sexual act may not be punishable if "there is no great difference in the ages or the mental and physical maturity of the persons involved".[24]

The age is 18 when in connection with a person who has some formal power over the young person, like a school teacher.

History[edit]

Until 1971, homosexual acts were prohibited. After decriminalisation, the age of consent was set at 18 for homosexual acts, and 16 for heterosexual acts.[25] In 1999, the age of consent was equalised to 16 for all sexual acts.[26]

France[edit]

The age of consent in France is 15, as specified by Article 227-25 of the Penal Code, which reads: "The commission without violence, constraint, threat or surprise of a sexual offence by an adult on the person of a child under fifteen years of age is punished by five years' imprisonment and a fine of €75,000."[27]

Article 227-22 prohibits the "organisation by an adult of meetings involving indecent exposure or sexual relations in which minors are present or participating". (Minors refers to under 18s; the text of the article can be subject to interpretation).[27]

Article 227-27 prohibits sexual relations with minors over age 15 (aged 15, 16 or 17) " 1° where they are committed by an ascendant or by any other person having authority over the victim; 2° where they are committed by a person abusing the authority conferred by his functions."[27]

History[edit]

Male homosexual acts were illegal until 1791, when the ancient sodomy laws were dropped from the Criminal Code of that year. This continued to be the case under the Napoleonic Code of 1810.

The age of consent was set at 11 in 1832, at 13 in 1863. In 1942, the age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 21, while that for heterosexual acts was still 13. The latter was increased to 15 in 1945. In 1974, the age for homosexual acts was lowered to 18. In 1982, it was lowered to 15, in line with that for heterosexual acts.

Georgia[edit]

The age of consent in Georgia is 16 as per Georgian Penal Code Art. 140, and Art. 141.[28]

Germany[edit]

The age of consent in Germany is 14, as long as a person over the age of 21 does not exploit a 14–15 year-old person's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination, in which case a conviction of an individual over the age of 21 requires a complaint from the younger individual; being over 21 and engaging in sexual relations with a minor of that age does not constitute an offense in and of itself. Otherwise the age of consent is 14, although provisions protecting minors against abuse apply until the age of 18 (under Section 182(1), it is illegal to engage in sexual activity with a person under 18 "by taking advantage of an exploitative situation"[29]).

As specified by Sections 176 (Sexual abuse of children) and 182 (Sexual abuse of youths), which read:

§ 176: "(1) Whoever commits sexual acts on a person under fourteen (14) years of age (a child) or allows them to be committed on himself by the child, shall be punished by imprisonment from six months to ten years [...]"

§ 180: "(1) Whoever abets the commission of sexual acts of a person under sixteen years of age on or in front of a third person or sexual acts of a third person on a person under sixteen years of age:

  1. by acting as an intermediary; or
  2. by furnishing or creating an opportunity,

shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [...]"

§ 182: "(2) A person over twenty-one years of age who abuses a person under sixteen years of age, in that he: 1. commits sexual acts on the person or allows them to be committed on himself by the person; or 2. induces the person to commit sexual acts on a third person or to allow them to be committed on the person by a third person, and thereby exploits the victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [...] The act shall only be prosecuted upon complaint, unless the prosecuting authority considers ex officio that it is required to enter the case because of the special public interest therein. [...] The court may dispense with punishment pursuant to these provisions if, in consideration of the conduct of the person against whom the act was directed, the wrongfulness of the act is slight."[30]

History[edit]

The current rules for age of consent in Germany were set following a post-reunification penal law reform in 1994. The ages of 14 and 16 had been relevant since the coming into force of the Criminal Code for the German Empire in 1872: Under § 176, sexual acts with children under 14 were illegal and have been always since. Under § 182, seduction of an "unblemished girl under the age of 16" was prosecuted upon complaint of parents or legal guardian only. In West Germany the latter rule was kept, with minor changes in 1973: Unblemishedness was no longer required, and the court could refrain from punishment if the offender was under 21 years of age. The German Democratic Republic, by contrast, created a new socialist criminal code in 1968. Under § 149, sexual acts with persons of the opposite sex between the ages of 14 and 16 were punishable if the victim's "moral immaturity" was exploited by using "gifts, the promise of benefits or similar" methods of persuasion "to initiate intercourse or actions similar to intercourse".

Male homosexuality had been illegal under § 175 regardless of age since 1872. Female homosexuality was not prosecuted. In West Germany, male homosexuality was legalized in 1969. The age of consent was set to 21 years and in 1973 reduced to 18 years. Offenders could be only men 18 or older, and courts could refrain from punishment if the offender was not yet 21. In East Germany, the criminal code was supplemented in 1957 by a provision that allowed the waiving of prosecution if no harm had been done to socialist society by the unlawful act. Concerning § 175, this meant that male homosexual acts were now almost prosecuted only if they involved minors, which meant persons under 18. The new criminal code of 1968 officially legalized homosexuality and in § 151, which now was gender-neutral, criminalized only homosexual acts of adults with minors. In 1987 the GDR supreme court ruled homosexuality was a variant of sexual behaviour just as heterosexuality. In 1989 § 151 was repealed and § 149 amended to include any sexual orientation.

After German reunification, according to the Unification Treaty of 1990, the § 149 code section stayed in force for the territory of the former GDR, and West German § 175 and § 182 were not enacted here. The need for gender- and sexual-orientation-neutrality and for a new balancing of sexual self-determination and youth protection was also being seen by West German lawmakers. In the ensuing 1994 reform, the minimum age of 14 for all of Germany was kept, and in building on legal traditions of both states, sexual acts committed by a person above 21 with a minor under 16 involving exploitation of the minor's individual lack of capacity for sexual self-determination were made punishable in new § 182. § 175 was abolished. In general, the need for complaint of the former West German law was kept, but in case of special public interest the offence was made prosecutable ex officio as had been the case in East German law.[31]

Greece[edit]

The age of consent in Greece is 15.[32]

The general provision for age of consent in Greece is 15 as specified by Article 339(1) of the Penal Code, which reads:

"One who commits an indecent act with a person under fifteen years of age, or causes this person to commit or undergo such an act through deception, is punished as follows..."

However, Article 347 holds a further prohibition of "seducing" a young male person if the actor is a male adult. This effectively sets the age of consent for male homosexual activity to 17, with a close in age exception for those older than 15 and younger than 18.[33] In Greek law the age of majority is set at 18.

There are also several other prohibitions regarding positions of authority and acts of lewdness. Furthermore, there is a close-in-age exemption of 3 years age difference for indecent acts between persons younger than 15.

Further reading:

  • Sexual Offences Laws in Greece[34]

Hungary[edit]

The age of consent in Hungary is 14. A close in age exemption allows sexual acts from age 12 if the older party is under 18.

The new criminal code in force since July 1, 2013 reads: "The person who has completed eighteenth year has sexual intercourse with a person who has not yet completed his fourteenth year, commits a felony and shall be punishable with imprisonment from one year to five years". "The person who has sexual intercourse with a person who has not yet completed his twelfth year, commits a felony and shall be punishable with imprisonment from five years to ten years".[35]

History[edit]

Until 1961 homosexual acts were illegal. After decriminalisation the age of consent for homosexual acts was 20 and remained so until 1978. From then until 1999 the age of consent for such acts was 18, as specified by Section 199. In 2002 the Hungarian Constitutional Court repealed Section 199 and the age of consent for homosexual acts was lowered to 14 in line with heterosexual acts.

Iceland[edit]

The age of consent in Iceland is 15, as specified by Section 202 of the Icelandic Penal Code, which reads: "Anyone who has carnal intercourse or other sexual intimacy with a child younger than 15 years shall be subject to imprisonment for at least 1 year and up to 16 years."[36][37]

Ireland[edit]

The age of consent in Ireland is 17,[38] in relation to vaginal, oral, or anal sex, and vaginal or anal penetration.[39] Relevant offences under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 are Defilement of a child aged under 17 years and Defilement of a child aged under 15 years.[39] Sentences are longer for the latter offence, for repeat offences and where the offender is an authority-figure such as a close relative or teacher.[39] Mistake as to the child's age is a valid defence if the mistake is honest and reasonable.[39] Girls under 18 cannot be convicted for heterosexual vaginal sex.[39] Offenders are placed on the sex offenders register unless less than 24 months older than the victim.[39] Sex between spouses is not criminalised,[39] although spouses under 18 are rare since the Family Law Act, 1995.[40]

History[edit]

Prior to the 1922 independence of the Irish Free State, the law in Ireland was that of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (see the UK history section). Anal sex was illegal under the Offences against the Person Act 1861, while the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 criminalised "Defilement of girl between thirteen and sixteen years of age", with more severe penalties for "Defilement of girl under thirteen years of age". The 1930 Carrigan Report into child sex abuse and underage prostitution recommended raising the age of consent to 18 years.[41] The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935 raised the age to 17, with more severe penalties under age 15, and disallowed a defence of mistake.[42] The law on child sex abuse, including the age of consent, was the subject of a 1989 consultation paper[43] and 1990 report[44] by the Law Reform Commission (LRC). The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 decriminalised male homosexual acts and created offences of "Buggery of persons under 17 years of age" and "Gross indecency with males under 17 years of age".[45] In 2006, the 1935 law was struck out when the Supreme Court found that its prohibition of the mistake defence violated a defendant's Constitutional rights.[46] The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006, quickly passed within the scope of the Supreme Court's judgment, replaced the 1935 and 1993 offences with the current ones.[38][39] The exemption for girls under 17 was recommended by the LRC and the Director of Public Prosecutions who felt "it would be wrong to stigmatise mothers and pregnant girls of 15 or 16 years of age as if they were either the victims of violent rape or they had committed a crime".[47] While this was controversial, the Minister pointed out that the previous law had not criminalised any sex act by a girl under 17.[48] The 2006 report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Child Protection recommended changing the age of consent to 16, and 18 with a person in authority. It advised that close-in-age cases should remain criminalised, but with more lenient guidelines for sentencing. It also recommended wider publicity of the age limits.[49][50] The Fine Gael–Labour government will consider implementing the age changes in January 2014 after consulting its member parties.[51][52]

Italy[edit]

The age of consent in Italy is 14 years, with a close-in-age exception that allows those aged 13 to engage in sexual activity with partners who are less than 3 years older. The age of consent rises to 16 if one of the participants has some kind of influence on the other (e.g. teacher, tutor, adoptive parent, priest).[53] Not knowing that the victim is underage is not a legal defence, except it was unavoidable ignorance.[54] If the minor involved is under the age of 10, the crime can be punished even without a complaint and the punishment is aggravated.[55] It is also illegal to perform sexual acts in the presence of a minor aged less than 14 with the intent of allowing the minor to witness the acts, even if they do not take an active part.[56]

See also related Wikisource articles from the Italian Criminal Code (in Italian). See also more related articles from Interpol.[57]

Kazakhstan[edit]

The age of consent in Kazakhstan is 16, according to article 122 of the Criminal Code.

Article 122. Sexual Intercourse and Other Actions of a Sexual Character with a Person Under Sixteen Years of Age

Sexual intercourse, sodomy, or lesbianism or other acts of sexual nature, with a person who did not reach sixteen years of age, the guilty party being aware of that fact, shall be punished by restriction of freedom for a period up to three years, or by detention under arrest for a period up to six months, or deprivation of freedom for a period up to five years.[58]

Latvia[edit]

The age of consent in Latvia is 16.

The main legislation is specified by the Latvian Criminal Law, Section 161 (Sexual Intercourse, Pederasty and Lesbianism with a Person who has not Attained the Age of Sixteen Years), which translated reads: "For a person who commits an act of sexual intercourse, or pederastic, lesbian or other unnatural sexual acts of gratification, with a person who has not attained the age of sixteen years and who is in financial or other dependence on the offender, or if such offence has been committed by a person who has attained the age of majority, the applicable sentence is deprivation of liberty for a term not exceeding four years."

However, Section 162 prohibits "immoral acts with a minor" although it is not made clear what the definition of "immoral acts" is.

Section 162. Immoral Acts With a Minor

(1) For a person who commits immoral acts with a minor against the will of the minor or if such have been committed by a person who has attained the age of majority, the applicable sentence is deprivation of liberty for a term not exceeding three years, or custodial arrest.

(2) For a person who commits immoral acts with a juvenile,the applicable sentence is deprivation of liberty for a term not exceeding six years.''

Sections 159 and 160 provide harsher penalties for rape and forcible sexual assault of juveniles.[59]

History[edit]

Until 1992, male homosexual acts were illegal under Section 124.1 of the Latvian Criminal Code. This provision was repealed by the Latvian Parliament in 1992 and the age of consent for male homosexual acts was set at 18. In 1998, the Latvian Parliament adopted a new Criminal Code that contained a complex system of sexual offences: the age of consent for all sexual acts other than vaginal intercourse was 14; for vaginal intercourse it was 16 (with a close in age exemption that allowed 14 and 15 year olds to have sex with a person under 18). In 2001, the law was amended to clarify the situation and confirm that the age of consent was 16 for all acts (only a person aged 18 or older can be punished for having sex with a 14-15 year old).

Liechtenstein[edit]

The age of consent in Liechtenstein is 14. Sexual activity with 14-15 year olds is generally legal, but it can still be punished if sexual access to these children has been obtained by exploiting their lack of sexual self-determination.[60]

Lithuania[edit]

The age of consent in Lithuania is 16, as specified by the Lithuanian Criminal Code §151.1, introduced by the bill of 2 July 2010.

Previously the age of consent was set to 14 according to the Lithuanian Criminal Code §153 prohibiting any sexual molestation or sexual relationships with a minor under 14 years. The age of consent (14) was not set directly in this article of the Lithuanian criminal code, though. It has been established by the Lithuanian case law. This meant that both heterosexual and homosexual acts were allowed once a child had reached the age of 14. There was (and remains) an exception to this rule: §151.1(3) of the Lithuanian Criminal Code prohibits parents, guardians, or other people who are ex officio directly responsible for the upbringing and supervision of a child to have any relationships of sexual kind with the child, if he or she has not yet reached the age of 18. [61]

History[edit]

Until 1993, male homosexual acts were prohibited under the Lithuanian Criminal Code, Article 1221, which was repealed in that year. The new law set an age of consent of 17 for male oral and anal intercourse, 16 for other male homosexual acts, and 14 for lesbian and heterosexual acts. In 2004, the law was amended to equalise the age of consent at 14 for all sexual acts; the age of consent was raised to 16 in 2010, regardless of gender and sexual orientation.[62]

Luxembourg[edit]

The age of consent in Luxembourg is 16, as specified by the Luxembourgish Penal Code, Article 372, which reads: "All indecent assaults on modesty committed without violence or threat, by a person or by aiding the person, of a child of either sex, aged less than sixteen, will be punished by imprisonment of one to five years.

The penalty will be imprisonment of five to ten years if the child was less than eleven years old."[63]

Macedonia[edit]

Article 188(1) of the Criminal Code of Macedonia prohibits sexual conduct with a "child" and a "child" is defined by Article 71 as a person under 14.

  • Article 188

(1) A person who commits statutory rape or some other sexual act upon a child shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to five years.

However, Article 197 prohibits an adult living in an extra-marital community with a Juvenile under 16.

  • Extra-marital life with a juvenile

Article 197

(1) An adult who lives in an extra-marital community with a juvenile who has reached the age of fourteen years, but not the age of sixteen, shall be punished with imprisonment of three months to three years.

  • Article 189(2) prohibits sexual acts with a Juvenile under 18 "who was entrusted to" the offender "for study, education, custody or care".
  • Article 192 prohibits both procuring a Juvenile for sexual acts and enabling the performance of sexual acts with a juvenile. This could effectively make the age of consent at 18.
  • Article 71 defines "Child" as a person under 14, while article 72 defines "Juvenile" as a person under 18.[64]

Malta[edit]

The age of consent in Malta is 18. Sexual activity - typically by people over 18 - with people between 12 and 18 can be considered defilement of minors by lewd acts or corruption of a minor, which, at the discretion of prosecutors and the courts, depending on the circumstances, may result in a conviction.

Art 201 of Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta (Presumption of violence in cases of carnal knowledge and indecent assault) states:

201. Unlawful carnal knowledge and any other indecent assault, shall be presumed to be accompanied with violence -
(a) when it is committed on any person under twelve years of age;
(b) when the person abused was unable to offer resistance owing to physical or mental infirmity, or for any other cause independent of the act of the offender, or in consequence of any fraudulent device used by the offender.
[65]

The punishment is imprisonment from three to nine years, with or without solitary confinement, as described in Art. 198 (Rape or carnal knowledge with violence). The punishment can be increased in certain cases described in Art. 202, such as when the person has not attained the age of nine years.

Art. 204 of Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta (Defilement of minors) reads:

203. (1) Whosoever, by lewd acts, defiles a minor of either sex, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, with or without solitary confinement: [...][65]

A number of aggravating circumstances exist to this blanket provision including: Abuse of parental authority or tutorship, where the victim is under the age of 12 and if the offence is committed by means of threats or deceit. There is no definition of how old the offender must be: Even another minor can be guilty of this crime,[66] although there is no evidence that any such case has ever been prosecuted.

The age of majority is defined in Art 188 of Chapter 16 of the Civil Laws of Malta:

188. (1) Majority is fixed at the completion of the eighteenth year of age.[67]

To apply Art. 203, there are requirements:

For the completed offence and apart from the formal element of the offence, there must be the lewd act (atto di libidine) and the actual defilement. The lewd act may be committed either on the person or in the presence of the minor. All acts which, either by their very nature or of the circumstances in which they are performed, either are directed to the indulgence of the sexual appetite, either of the agent or of the victim, and are capable of arousing sexual interest of the victim, are lewd acts for the purposes of the offence in question.[68][69]

The term "defile" must be put in context. In example: If a person is sexually mature (even if minor) then he/she cannot be defiled. In 2008 two brothers, aged 19 and 20, were found not guilty of defiling a girl, then aged 16. Their sexual encounters were consensual, and it was clear that the girl had had several previous sexual adventures with several youths.[70][71] In 2007 a man of 30 was found guilty of defiling a boy, then aged 14. He had set up a situation in which the boy came to his apartment; as a result of both childish curiosity and what the court deemed to be the guile of the adult man, the boy remained in the apartment even while man first showered and then committed the lewd acts.[72] There are also other cases, where offenders have been found guilty even though the circumstances were not clear, such as the case of a hotel manager aged 35 with a 14 year old girl on holiday,[73] three boys aged 18, 19 and 20 with three 14-year-old girls[74] or another hotel manager of 46 and a boy of 14, who had encounters over a longer time.[75]

In the wording of the law there is no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, discrimination can result from selective enforcement with regard to individual cases. "This may therefore lead to a higher incidence of cases in which the minor and the perpetrator are of the same sex, given that there may be parents who would not resort to legal proceedings should their 17-year old child have sexual relations with another person of the opposite sex but would do so if the person is of the same sex."[66]

Marriage is allowed as early as the age of 16, which would, in theory, allow a case to arise in which a wife (or husband) they press charges under this article. In practice, this problem has never arisen.

The concept of age-banding employed in for example Canada is not present in the Maltese legal system and sexual activity between one partner who is 17 years old and another who is 18 years old can constitute defilement of minors, depending on the circumstances, with no exception being allowed purely on the basis of the proximity of their ages.

Moldova[edit]

The age of consent in Moldova is 16, per Article 174- "Sexual intercourse with a person under 16", and Article 175- "Perverted Actions".[7]

Article 174. Sexual Intercourse with a Person under the Age of 16

(1) Sexual intercourse other than rape as well as any other acts of vaginal or anal penetration committed with a person certainly known to be under the age of 16 shall be punished by imprisonment for up to 5 years.

(2) The person who committed the act set forth in par. (1) shall not be subject to criminal liability if he/she is similar to the victim in terms of age and physical and mental development.

[Art.174 in version of Law No. 277-XVI dated 18.12.2008, in force as of 24.05.2009]

[Art.174 amended by Law No. 211-XV dated 29.05.03, in force as of 12.06.03]

Articles 171 and 172 provide harsher penalties for Rape and Violent Sexual Actions (including physical or mental coercion) against juveniles.

Monaco[edit]

The age of consent in Monaco is 15.[76]

Montenegro[edit]

The age of consent in Montenegro is 14, as set out in Article 206 of the Criminal Code. Article 207 makes it illegal for a teacher, instructor, guardian, adoptive parent, stepfather, stepmother or other person with a similar position to abuse one's position or authority in order to perform sexual intercourse or an equal act with a minor (under 18) entrusted for teaching, education, custody and care. Article 209 (2) makes it illegal for a person to "provide for performing debauchery, an act equal to it or some other sexual act to a minor". Article 216 prohibits "Extramarital community with a minor" Article 216 reads: (1) An adult person who lives in an extramarital community with a minor, shall be punished by an imprisonment sentence of three months to three years. (2) A parent, adoptive parent or a guardian who enables a minor to live in an extramarital community with another person or incites him/her into it shall be punished by a penalty referred to in Paragraph 1 of this Article.''.[77]

History[edit]

Montenegro decriminalized homosexual sex in 1977, with an equal age of consent, set at 14.

Netherlands[edit]

The age of consent in the Netherlands is 16, as specified by the Dutch Criminal Code, Articles 245 and 247, which read:

Art 245: "A person who, out of wedlock, with a person who has reached the age of twelve but has not reached sixteen, performs indecent acts comprising or including sexual penetration of the body is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than eight years or a fine of the fifth category."

Art 247: "A person who, with a person whom he knows to be unconscious or physically unable to resist or to be suffering from such a degree of mental defect or mental disease that he is incapable or not sufficiently capable of exercising or expressing his will in the matter or of offering resistance, performs indecent acts, or who, with a person who has not yet reached the age of sixteen (16) years, out of wedlock, performs indecent acts, or by whom the latter is enticed into performing, or submitting to such acts, out of wedlock, with a third party, is liable to a term of imprisonment of not more than six years or a fine of the fourth category."

Article 245,[78] Article 247:[79] Close-in-age exceptions are very limited possible. These are ruled invalid if they're outside "social-ethical norms", like a ménage-a-trois, or for reasons of unequal relationship, e.g. the perpetrator (17) wasn't in love while the victim (15) was.[80]

History[edit]

In the 1990s, the Netherlands gained international attention due to its policies regarding the age of consent. Between 1990 and 2002[81] the Netherlands operated what was in effect an age of consent of 12, subject to qualifications. The relevant law, passed in November, 1990, permitted sexual intercourse for young people between 12 and 16 in most circumstances, but allowed a challenge by parents or by the Protection of Children if there was evidence of exploitation.[82] Although the age of consent was often reported internationally to be 12, this was partly misguiding, because sexual acts up to 16 remained open to prosecution. Netherlands has gained an international reputation of being extremely liberal on sexual issues, although much of this is mostly due to exaggerated reports in foreign media and claims by foreign politicians, rather than due to reality. For instance, in the US, during the 1980s, several conservative campaigners claimed that children were sold into sexual slavery at "auctions" held in Amsterdam; but did not produce any evidence to support their claims.[83]

Northern Cyprus[edit]

The mostly unrecognised entity, self-proclaimed as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has an age of consent of 16 as designated in the Penal Code (Ceza Yasası, Art. 153 & 154).

History[edit]

Prior to 2014, sodomy was illegal, the age of consent only applied to females and sexual contact with a female between the ages of 13 and 16 was a misdemeanor. As of 2014, the age of consent is set at 16 for both males and females, sexual contact with any child under 16 regardless of gender is a felony and the ban on sodomy is lifted, thereby legalizing homosexual sex.[1]

Norway[edit]

The age of consent in Norway is 16, as specified by the 1902 General Civil Penal Code §196: which reads: "Any person who engages in sexual activity with a child who is under 16 years of age shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 years." Aggravating circumstances as recidivism, multiple perpetrators, and unusual degree of degradation and pain, or physical harm (including, specifically, sexually transmitted diseases) may raise the maximum penalty.

The penal code on the age of consent is two-tierd. §195 of the same penal code increases the maximum penalty for sexual activity with a child who is under 14 years of age. According to Chapter 1 of the penal code, §195 applies also if the act was committed outside Norway and by a non-Norwegian citizen or resident.

Even though one may be found guilty of violating the age of consent code, if those involved are "about equal as regards age and development", the court can exercise its own discretion to suspend passing a sentence.

History

The age of consent for heterosexual sex has changed from the Viking age where it was from the onset of first menstruation[citation needed], to after the Lutheran reformation from 20 years down to 16 years (enacted in the 60's).

Sexual relations between two women was never explicitly criminalized, but have been prosecuted under the general indecency law of the Civil Penal Code of 1842.[84]

In 1951 a Norwegian ministry of justice white paper recommended de-criminalization of homosexual acts in the 1903 Civil Penal Code §213, but this was rejected by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget). The ban on sex between men, which also outlawed cohabitation[85] as well as sex with animals, was repealed in 1972. [86][87]

Svalbard[edit]

According to the Svalbard Treaty, Norwegian law is applied as the minimum standard. The age of consent is therefore 16.

Poland[edit]

The age of consent in Poland is 15, as specified by the Polish Criminal Code, Article 200, which reads:

"Article 200. § 1. Whoever subjects a minor under 15 years of age to sexual intercourse or makes him/her submit to another sexual act or to perform such an act shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 2 and 12 years."
"§ 2. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who records pornographic material with the participation of such a person."[88][89]

History[edit]

Poland never imposed laws against homosexuality. However, in 1876 homosexuality was criminalised by the laws of occupying countries (see Partitions of Poland). In 1932 the first Polish Criminal Code after regaining independence was introduced, making the age of consent of 15 for all sexual acts, regardless of sexual orientation.

Portugal[edit]

Since September 2007, the age of consent laws of Portugal states 14, regardless of sexual behaviour, gender or sexual orientation, as a result of the constitutional court of Portugal ruling on constitutional protection that explicitly includes "sexual orientation", formally into the Constitution of Portugal back in 2004. Since September 2007, the age of consent was formally equalised as part of the Penal Code of September 2007. Although the age of consent is stipulated at 14 in Portugal, the legality of sexual acts with a minor between 14 and 16 is open to legal interpretation since the law states that it is illegal to perform a sexual act with an adolescent between 14 and 16 years old "by taking advantage of their inexperience".[90]

History[edit]

Homosexual acts were legalised for the first time in Portugal in 1852, with an equal age of consent at that time - although homosexuality was again re-criminalised in 1912. They were decriminalised a second time in 1945 and an age of consent was set at 16, in line with heterosexual activities. In 1995, a new Penal Code was introduced with "different circumstances" for different sexual behaviours. Since September 2007, the age of consent, regardless of sexual behaviour, gender or sexual orientation, is 14[citation needed].

See also: LGBT rights in Portugal

Romania[edit]

The new Romanian Criminal Code,[91] which came into force on the 1st of February 2014, sets a general age of consent of 15. However, sexual acts that do not include penetration may be performed from age 13. There is also a close-in-age exemption: the sexual acts are not punished if the age difference between the partners is less than 3 years.

The law sets several other restrictions in regard to children under 13: it is illegal for an adult to perform sexual acts in view of such a child; to show pornographic materials to such a child or to induce the child to view sex shows; or to solicit such a child to meet for sexual acts (such as on-line solicitation).

In addition, it is illegal for an adult to engage in acts of sexual penetration with a child under 18, if the adult abuses the authority or influence they have over the child in order to gain the sexual access.

The relevant articles of the Criminal Code are Art. 220, Art. 221 and Art. 222. All these laws are gender neutral and apply regardless of the sexual orientation of those involved.[91]

Russia[edit]

The age of consent in Russia is 16. The age of consent changed several times in Russian history: the Criminal Code of RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic) stated "sexual maturity" as the age of consent;[92][93][94] when the Criminal Code of Russia was adopted in 1996, the age of consent was proclaimed to be the same regardless of sexual orientation and was set to 16 years old;[95] in 1998 it was lowered to 14 years;[96] and in 2003 it was returned again to 16 years[97] (which is the current age of consent in Russia). Law of early 2012 tightened the consent laws in 134 and 135 considerably.

Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 reworded Article 134 of this Code Article 134. Sexual Intercourse and Other Actions of Sexual Character with a Person Who Has Not Reached the Age of Sixteen Years

1. Sexual intercourse committed by a person who has reached the age of eighteen years of age with a person who has not reached the age of sixteen years and sexual maturity - shall be punishable by obligatory labour for a term of up to 480 hours, or by restriction of liberty for a term of up to four years, or by compulsory labour for a term of up to four years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to three years, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to four years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to ten years.

2. Pederasty or lesbianism in respect of a person who has not reached sixteen years of age and sexual maturity effected by a person who has reached eighteen years of age - shall be punishable by compulsory labour for a term of up to five years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to three years, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to six years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to ten years.

3. The deeds stipulated by Part One and Two of this Article committed by a person who has reached twelve years of age but has not reached fourteen years of age - shall be punishable with deprivation of freedom for a term of three to ten years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to fifteen years and with restriction of liberty for a term of up to two years or without such.

4. The deeds stipulated by Parts One, Two or Three of this Article committed in respect of two or more persons -shall be punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of eight to fifteen years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to twenty years.

5. The deeds provided for by Parts One, Two, Three or Four of this article made by a group of persons, by a group of persons by previous concert or by an organised group - shall be punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of twelve to twenty years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to twenty years and with restriction of liberty for a term of up to two years or without such.

6. The deeds provided for by Part Three of this article made by a person with a previous conviction for having committed an offence against sexual integrity of a minor - shall be punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of fifteen to twenty years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to twenty years or by life imprisonment.

Note. 1. A person who for the first time has committed the crime stipulated by Part One of this Article, shall be relieved of punishment by court if it is established that such person and the action committed by him/her are no longer socially dangerous in connection with his/her entry into marriage with the victim.

2. Where the age difference between the victim and the accused person is less than four years, the latter shall not be punishable by deprivation of liberty for the committed deed provided for by Part One of this article or by Part One of Article 135 of this Code.

Article 135. Depraved Actions

Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 amended part 1 of Article 135 of this Code

1. The commission of lecherous actions without using violence by a person who has reached eighteen years of age in respect of a person who has not reached sixteen years of age and sexual maturity - shall be punishable by obligatory labour for a term of up to 480 hours, or by restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years, or by compulsory labour for a term of up to five years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up three years, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to three years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to ten years. Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 amended part 2 of Article 135 of this Code

2. The same deed committed in respect of the person who has reached twelve years of age but has not reached fourteen years of age - shall be punishable with deprivation of freedom for a term of three to eight years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to fifteen years and with restriction of liberty for a term of up to two years or without such.

Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 reworded part 3 of Article 135 of this Code

3. The deeds provided for by Parts One or Two of this article made in respect of two or more persons - shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of five to twelve years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to twenty years.

Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 amended part 4 of Article 135 of this Code

4. The acts stipulated by Parts one, two or three of this Article committed by a group of persons in preliminary collusion or by an organised group - shall be punishable by deprivation of freedom for a term of seven to fifteen years with or without deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or to be engaged in a certain activity for a period of up to twenty years and with restriction of liberty for a term of up to two years or without such. Federal Law No. 14-FZ of February 29, 2012 supplemented Article 135 of this Code with part 5

5. The deed provided for by Part Two of this article which is made by the person who has a previous conviction for having committed an offence against sexual integrity of a minor -

shall be punishable by deprivation of liberty for a term of ten to fifteen years with deprivation of the right to hold definite offices or to engage in definite activities for a term of up to twenty years.

Former wording: -

Article 134. Illicit Sexual Relations or Other Sexual Actions with a Person Who Has Not Reached 16 Years of Age Illicit sexual relations, pederasty, or lesbianism, committed by a person who has reached 18 years of age with a person who obviously has not reached 16 years of age, shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term of up to three years or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to four years.

Federal Law No. 73-FZ of July 21, 2004 amended Article 135 of the present Code

Article 135. Depraved Actions Commission of depraved actions without the use of violence by the person who has reached the age of 18 years in relations to a person who obviously has not reached 16 years of age, shall be punishable by a fine in the amount up to 300 thousand roubles, or in the amount of the wage or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period up to two years, or by restraint of liberty for a term of up to two years, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to three years.

Wording prior to 2004: -

Article 134. Illicit Sexual Relations or Other Sexual Actions with a Person Who Has Not Attained 14 Years of Age Illicit sexual relations, pederasty, or lesbianism, committed by a person who has attained 18 years of age with a person who obviously has not attained 14 years of age, shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term of up to three years or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to four years.

Article 135. Depraved Actions Commission of depraved actions without the use of violence, in relations to a person who obviously has not attained 14 years of age, shall be punishable by a fine in the amount of 300 to 500 minimum wages, or in the amount of the wage or salary, or any other income of the convicted person for a period of three to five months, or by restraint of liberty for a term of up to two years, or by deprivation of liberty for a term of up to three years.

However, only a person over 18 can be charged. Charges are relatively low (up to 4 years of prison), regardless of sexual orientation or gender and "obscene actions" (with even less charges).[98] If the victim is proved not to understand the nature and consequences of the act (due to their age or mental abilities), it will be considered rape and charged much more severely (up to 10 years of prison, or up to 15 if the victim is under 14).[98]

Further reading:

  • Criminal Code of the Russian Federation[98] — (English translation)
  • Criminal Code of the Russian Federation[99] — Chapter 18 (in Russian)
  • LGBT rights in Russia

History[edit]

The penalty for having sex with a minor is not always applied. For example in 2005, Valentina Isaeva gave birth to a girl in Moscow, Russia at the age of 11 years, 10 months.[100] The father was 19-year-old Habibula Patahonov from Tajikistan, who rented a room in a flat where Valentina was living with her grandmother. The child's father was sentenced conditionally for child abuse but was not jailed because he was willing to support Valentina and their daughter.[101]

San Marino[edit]

The age of consent in San Marino is 14, per Article 173.[102] It is also illegal, under Article 177, to "incite a minor under 18 years to sexual corruption".[103]

Serbia[edit]

The age of consent in Serbia is 14, regardless of sexual orientation or gender. This is regulated by Chapter 18 (Sexual Offences) of the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia and especially Article 180 (prohibiting sexual intercourse with a child). Article 112 defines a child as a person under 14 years of age. Article 181 prohibits sexual intercourse with a juvenile (defined in Article 112 as a person under 18) if the juvenile is entrusted for learning, tutoring, guardianship or care. Article 190 furthermore forbids cohabitation with a minor (person under 18) unless a marriage is conducted.[104]

History[edit]

From 1977 to 1994, sexual acts between men of any age was a criminal offence in Serbia, although the law has never been applied. Then in 1994, the age of consent was 18 just for anal sex between males; any male performing anal sexual conduct with another male, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison, 16 for all other sexual conduct. Since 2006, an equal age of consent came into force, regardless of sexual orientation or gender - This is regulated by the section 110 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia stating that "lewd acts" between a male adult and a male under the age of 16 is punishable by imprisonment from 1 to 8 years. There is no specific reference to "lewd acts" between two females of the same offence.

The province of Vojvodina, a northern province of Serbia, had decriminalized homosexuality in 1978, thus effectively making an equal age of consent for any sexual practice regardless of sex or gender. This lasted until Vojvodina lost its law-making power in 1990.

Slovak Republic[edit]

The age limit of sexual acts in Slovakia is 15, as specified by the Slovak Criminal Code, Section 201.

§ 201 Sexual abuse

1. Any person, who has sexual intercourse with a person less than fifteen years of age or who subjects such person to other sexual abuse, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of three to ten years.[105]

History[edit]

The history before 1993 within Czechoslovakia is commons with the Czech Republic. Until 1961, homosexual acts were prohibited, however the Criminal Code of that year decriminalised such behaviour partially. However, under Paragraph 244, the age limit of restriction for homosexual acts was set at 18, besides the general limit 15 years. In 1990, the whole Paragraph 244 was repealed and the age limit became 15 for all.

Slovenia[edit]

The age of consent in Slovenia is 15, as specified by the Slovenian Penal Code, Article 183, Section 1, which reads: "(1) Whoever has sexual intercourse or performs any lewd act with a person of the same or opposite sex under the age of fifteen (15) years where there is a marked discrepancy between the maturity of the perpetrator and that of the victim shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than six (6) months and not more than five (5) years."[106]

History[edit]

Until 1959, male homosexual acts were prohibited, as was the case in all of former Yugoslavia. A new Penal Code was introduced in 1977, which decriminalised homosexual acts and all discriminatory provisions were removed. In 1995, the age of consent was set at 14 for all acts. In 1999, the code was amended to raise the age of consent to 15 years and added the condition for "a marked discrepancy between the maturity of the perpetrator and that of the victim'".

Spain[edit]

The age of consent in Spain is 13, as specified by the Spanish Penal Code, Article 183(1).[107] However, if deceit is used in gaining the consent of a minor under 16 years an individual can be charged under Article 182(1)[107] upon parental complaint.

History[edit]

Homosexual acts had been legal in Spain from 1822 to 1933, with the exception of the offence of “habitual homosexual acts" in the years 1928-32. However, some homosexuals were arrested under the "Ley de Vagos y Maleantes" (Vagrants and Common Delinquents Law) during the Second Spanish Republic. Homosexual acts were illegal during Francisco Franco's regime, which created a specific law against them (Ley de Peligrosidad Social - Law Against Social Danger). A new Criminal Code was introduced in 1995, which specified an age of consent of 12 under Article 181f for all sexual acts; and this was raised to 13 in 1999.

Further reading:

  • Interpol[108] Entry on Spain (In Spanish)

Sweden[edit]

The age of consent in Sweden is 15, as specified by the Swedish Penal Code, Chapter 6 (On Sexual Crimes). The age of fifteen is referred to several times, for example in Section 4, which reads: "A person who has sexual intercourse with a child under fifteen years of age or who with such a child carries out another sexual act that, having regard to the nature of the violation and the circumstances in general, is comparable to sexual intercourse, shall be sentenced for rape of a child to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years."

There is a position of trust rule in which the age of consent is raised to 18. The section mentioned above continues:"The same applies to the person who carries out an act referred to in the first paragraph to a child more than fifteen years of age but less than eighteen years of age and who is offspring to the perpetrator or in the perpetrator's care or in a similar relationship to the perpetrator, or for whose care or guardianship the perpetrator is responsible due to the decision of a government agency."

It's not legal to have sexual intercourse with related adults either, but the sentences for that (up to two years) are considerably milder than those for rape of a child (two to six years, four to ten years if aggravated).

There is also a close in age exception (Chapter 6, Section 14) "...not sentenced if it is obvious that the act is no violation of the child considered the small difference in age between the person who carries out the act and the child and other circumstances." In a verdict of 30 March 2007, the Supreme Court found that a 17 year old boy had not committed a criminal act by having sexual intercourse with a girl 14 years and 7 months old. (Case B 415-07)[109]

The Swedish age of consent also applies if the act takes place outside Sweden but the elder person later goes to Sweden. The elder person doesn't have to be a Swedish citizen or resident, but could be a tourist on a temporary visit. This is regardless of the age of consent in the country where the act took place.[110][111]

History[edit]

Homosexual acts, both between men and between women, were prohibited in Sweden since 1864, then in 1944 homosexual acts became legal - but with a higher age of consent of 18 (21 if the younger part was in a situation of dependency) than for heterosexual acts, which was always set at 15. The age of consent was finally equalized to 15 regardless of sexual orientation in 1978.[112]

Switzerland[edit]

The age of consent in Switzerland is 16, as specified by the Swiss Federal Criminal Code, Article 187(1). However, there exists a close in age exception if the difference between the ages of the participants is three years or less (Article 187(2)).

Turkey[edit]

The age of consent in Turkey is the age of majority (set at 18 as per Article 11 of the Turkish Civil Code).

According to Article 104 of the Turkish Penal Code (Türk Ceza Kanunu), sexual intercourse with minors aged 15, 16 and 17 can only be prosecuted upon a complaint. However, if the offender is a person who is forbidden to marry the child by law or is a person who is obliged to take care of the child due to adoption or foster care, then the prosecution doesn't require a complaint and the punishment is aggravated.[116]

Article 103 regulates any kind of sexual activity with minors under 15 (or minors under 18 who lack the ability to understand the legal consequences of such actions) as child sexual abuse.[116]

History[edit]

The Ottoman Empire, a predecessor state to the Republic of Turkey, decriminalized sodomy in 1858. The age of consent in Turkey was set at 15 for both heterosexual and homosexual sex in the 1926 penal code, but this was raised to 18 in 1953. The new penal code of 2004 also set the age of consent for both heterosexual and homosexual sex at 18, with some differences, such as the act of having sexual intercourse with a minor over 15 being punishable upon a complaint.

Ukraine[edit]

The age of consent in Ukraine appears to be 16, although it is not specifically set in any one statute.

Article 155 states that sexual intercourse with a sexually immature person shall be punishable. Immaturity is irrefutably presumed in those under 14 {Art. 120CC and court rulings}. Those under 14 are considered children in Ukrainian law, additionally those under 16 are considered minors (generally read from all articles and court rulings).

However, sexual acts with those under 16 that are considered debauchery can also be prosecuted under Article 156.

Article 155 – Sexual intercourse with a sexually immature person

1. Sexual intercourse with a sexually immature person, shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term up to three years or imprisonment for the same term.'' 2. The same actions committed by a parent or surrogate parent, or where they caused sterility or other grave consequences, – shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of three to five years.[117]

Article 156 – Debauchery of minors

1. Debauched actions committed in regard of a person under 16 years of age, shall be punishable by arrest for a term up to six months, or restraint of liberty for a term up to three years.'' 2. The same actions committed in regard of a young child, or by a parent or surrogate parent, – shall be punishable by restraint of liberty for a term up to five years, or imprisonment for a term up to three years.[117][118]

United Kingdom (and dependencies)[edit]

The United Kingdom consists of the jurisdictions of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. UK national age of consent legislation does not apply to its dependencies.

England and Wales[edit]

The age of consent in England and Wales is 16[119] regardless of sexual orientation or gender, as specified by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.[120] However, if person A is over the age of 18 and is in a position of trust to person B who is under the age of 18, it is illegal for A to engage in sexual activity with B.[121] Section 47 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 makes it an offence to pay for or promise payment for sexual services of a person under 18 where the 'client' does not reasonably believe that person is over 18, or in any event for a person under 13.[122]

Further reading:

  • Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885[123]
  • Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000[124]

History[edit]

The age of consent for heterosexual acts in England was set at 12 in 1275 during the reign of Edward I. The wording was along the lines of "It shall be deemed illegal to ravage a maiden who is not of age" - at the time "of age" being 12. Therefore, there was technically no age of consent for the male participant. The English law became applicable in Wales following the Laws in Wales Acts (1536 and 1543). In medieval Welsh law there was no actual equivalent of the concept of the age of consent as such, but a girl was marriageable at 12–14 (the onset of puberty) and a fine was payable for the taking of a girl's maidenhood by force; the rules varied according to status and may not have been applied rigidly to commoners.[125]

A concern that young girls were being sold into brothels led Parliament to raise the age of consent to 13 in 1875 under the Offences against the Person Act 1875. After W. T. Stead's Maiden Tribute articles, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 raised the age of consent to 16.[126]

Anal intercourse, both male-male and male-female, had been illegal and punishable by death since the Buggery Act 1533. In 1861, parliament passed the Offences against the Person Act 1861, which abolished the death penalty for anal intercourse. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 extended buggery laws to outlaw any kind of sexual activity between males. It is common folklore that an amendment that would have criminalised lesbian acts was rejected by Queen Victoria because she refused to believe that some women did such things; but it is likelier that those presenting the amendment excluded it (as did the House of Lords 40 years later) on the assumption that it would give women ideas.[127]

Male homosexual acts were decriminalised under the Sexual Offences Act 1967, Section 1, although the age of consent for such acts was set at 21, whereas the age of consent for heterosexual acts was 16. However, this particular legislation applied only in England and Wales.

In 1994, on the second reading of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the Conservative Member of Parliament Edwina Currie introduced an amendment to lower the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16, in line with that for heterosexual acts; the amendment was defeated by 308 votes to 280. A compromise amendment that lowered the age of consent to 18 was accepted by 427 votes to 162. Also during the readings were motions to equalise the age of consent to 17 for all, to maintain the age of consent for homosexual acts to 21, and a further attempt to lower the age of consent to 16, all of which were rejected.[citation needed]

In 1997, the European Court of Human Rights case of Sutherland v the United Kingdom held that a higher age of consent for homosexuals than for heterosexuals was a breach of Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 of the Convention. In response, the Government introduced the Crime and Disorder Bill that contained a provision lowering the age of consent for homosexual acts to 16. Though accepted by the House of Commons, the provision was rejected by the House of Lords. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, introduced in 1998, contained a similar provision, but once again it was rejected by the House of Lords. The Bill was reintroduced in 2000 and, despite opposition from the House of Lords, was passed under the Parliament Act 1911 (which allows the House of Commons to overrule the House of Lords under certain circumstances). As the Scottish Parliament had been established prior to the reintroduction of the Bill, and the relevant legislation was a devolved issue, the consent of that Parliament under the Sewel Convention was required – had that consent not been granted, the Scottish provisions would have had to be removed and it would not have been possible to use the Parliament Act.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, became law in January 2001 throughout the UK, and thus equalized, regardless of gender, the age of consent at 16 for both heterosexual and homosexual acts (including, for the first time, lesbian acts), except those taking place between a 16–17 year old and someone "in a position of trust" (e.g. a teacher), where the age of consent was raised to 18.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 officially ended the concept of buggery in British law, as technically, heterosexual anal intercourse had still been illegal until the passing of this law. The passing of this law meant that there was no legal difference made between vaginal and anal intercourse, as well as sexual touching and newly added oral penetration and penetration by other body parts than penis. The Act also raised the legal age for pornography and prostitution from 16 to 18.

There have been various suggestions to lower the age of consent to 14 - in 1998 the New Labour government proposed this, but despite some Left wing and Youth support this had been dropped by early 2003 as lacking support, a decade later in early 2013 the suggestion by civil servants to lower the age of consent to 14 was rejected by the Conservative led coalition as offensive (at least under some circumstances) and attention was drawn to the impact of recent scandals on the reception to any proposals.

Scotland[edit]

Since 1 December 2010, the age of consent in Scotland is 16, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.[128][129] Before that date, it was 16 for girls (under a statutory offence)[130] and 14 for boys (the common law age of puberty). However, consensual sex with a girl aged between 13 and 16 is not rape, but a lesser offence; on 1 December 2010 this has been given the specific name of "having intercourse with an older child".

History[edit]

Male homosexual acts were illegal in Scotland until 1980 when they were decriminalised by the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, Section 80, which specified an age of consent of 21. The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995 lowered the age of consent of 18 and this was further lowered to 16 by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 described above. Male rape was recognised along with a complete overhaul of sexual offences legislation under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 (in force from the 1 December 2010, except for sections 52 and 53).[131]

Northern Ireland[edit]

The age of consent in Northern Ireland is 16, regardless of sexual orientation or gender, as specified by the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.[132] The reason the age of consent was lowered from 17 to 16 in 2008 with the Order was to bring it in line with the rest of the UK; Criminal Justice Minister Paul Goggins said there was no compelling reason for the age to be different in Northern Ireland than elsewhere.[133]

History[edit]

Gay male sexual conduct was illegal in Northern Ireland until 1982, when they were decriminalised by the Homosexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 1982, which specified an age of consent of 21 - in line with the rest of the UK at the time. The change was a result of the judgement in the European Court of Human Rights case of Dudgeon v United Kingdom (1981) in which the ECHR held that a prohibition on homosexual acts was a breach of Article 8 of the Convention. The age of consent for gay male sexual conduct was lowered to 18 in 1994 when the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was implemented (as to be in line with England and Wales). The age of consent in 2001 was then lowered to 17 for gay male sexual conduct - so that was in line with heterosexual and lesbian sexual conduct, by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, Section 1. Then in 2008 the age of consent for all individuals under an Order (mentioned above) was lowered to 16 so it was inline with the rest of the UK. Prior to 2008, the age of consent in Northern Ireland was always 17 for heterosexuals and lesbian sexual conduct.

Akrotiri and Dhekelia[edit]

For both of these Sovereign Base Areas (British military enclaves) on the island of Cyprus, the age of consent is 16.

Gibraltar[edit]

Since 2011, the age of consent is equal and gender-neutral at 16 in Gibraltar (a British overseas territory). The gender-neutral Crimes Bill 2011 passed the Gibraltar Parliament and got assented - implementing the 2011 Supreme Court of Gibraltar decision and by repealing and updating 140 year old criminal laws of Gibraltar.[134]

History[edit]

Male homosexual acts have been decriminalised in Gibraltar since 1993, where the age of consent was higher at 18 for gay men, 16 for lesbians and heterosexuals. Anal sex was illegal for heterosexuals regardless. An equal age of consent set at 16 and legalising heterosexual anal sex happened because of a recent Supreme Court decision in 2011,[135] then in 2011, under the gender-neutral Crimes Act 2011 implemented an equal and gender-neutral age of consent of 16 and legalised anal sex for heterosexuals - reflecting the Supreme Court of Gibraltar decision and by repealing and updating 140 year old criminal laws of Gibraltar.[134]

Guernsey (including Alderney, Herm and Sark)[edit]

Since 2010, the age of consent in the Bailiwick of Guernsey (a Crown Dependency including Alderney, Herm and Sark) is 16, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.[136]

History[edit]

In 1983, male homosexual acts were decriminalised with the age of consent set at 21. In 1999 the age of consent for male homosexual acts was lowered to 18.[137] In 2010, the age of consent for male homosexual acts was equalised at 16 for everyone, by a recently passed law.[136]

Isle of Man[edit]

The age of consent in the Isle of Man, a Crown Dependency, is 16, last amended in 2006.[138]

History[edit]

Prior to 1992, sodomy was illegal, then under the Sexual Offences (Isle Of Man) Act 1992 (after assent) the age of consent was set at 21 for sodomy (in line with the UK at that time). Then in 2001, the age of consent for male homosexual acts was lowered to 18 under the Criminal Justice Act 2001.[139] In 2006, under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2006[140] the age of consent was lowered to 16, became gender-neutral for all sexual conduct, regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

See also:

Jersey[edit]

The age of consent in the Bailiwick of Jersey, a Crown Dependency, is 16, last amended in 2007.[141]

History[edit]

Prior to 1990, sodomy was illegal[142] in Jersey for both men and women until 1990 although the age of consent for homosexual acts other than sodomy was the same as for heterosexual acts. In 1990, the age of consent for sodomy between consenting males was set at 21 (the UK at that time maintained the age of consent of 21 for all homosexual acts between males).[143] In 1995, the sodomy age of consent became 18 (under the Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 1995). In 2007, the age of consent was lowered to 16, became gender-neutral for all sexual conduct (including sodomy); regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

Further reading

  • Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 2007[144] (became gender-neutral for all sexual conduct, including sodomy; regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender at 16, effective since 2007)

Vatican State[edit]

Law No. VIII of 11 July 2013, entitled "Supplementary Laws on Criminal Law Matters" establishes the present law for the State of Vatican City regarding criminal penalties for sexual acts with minors. Article 4 of Law No. VIII defines "minor" for the purposes of that law to mean "every human being below the age of eighteen years." Article 8, paragraphs 1 through 4, establish criminal penalties for anyone who engages in sexual acts with a person below the age of 18. Paragraph 5 of Article 8 provides an exception to this by stating that "the offence does not exist if the sexual acts take place within a marriage."[145] Canon 1083 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that "A man before he has completed his sixteenth year of age and a woman before she has completed her fourteenth year of age cannot enter into a valid marriage."[146] Thus, in the context of this article, the age of consent in Vatican City may be considered 14 for married females who are having sexual relations with their husbands only, 16 for married males having relations with their wives only, but 18 for everyone else, whether married or not.

It should also be noted that the "Law of the Source of Law" of the Vatican State requires that any local laws must first defer to divine law, to Papal decrees, and to canon law. As the Vatican understands divine law, even if not sanctioned with criminal penalties by the state, all sex outside of marriage is illicit regardless of the age or willingness of those who engage in it.

See also[edit]

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