Swedish Court Rules That Public Masturbation Is Legal

516px-Greater_coat_of_arms_of_Sweden.svgA court in Sweden has handed done a rather novel ruling. The Södertörn District Court has declared that it is legal to masturbate in public so long as you are not “targeting” anyone in particular. Moreover, public prosecutor Olof Vrethammer says that he entirely supports the ruling.

The case concerns a 65-year-old man who dropped his shorts on a beach in Stockholm and started to masturbate in front of people. He was charged with assault.

I agree that such an act does not constitute assault, but most jurisdiction have a separate offense of public indecent exposure, though some statutes refer delicately to exposing “his person” in public (which can be a bit confusing when the same noun is used for the victim). Thus, in South Carolina you cannot expose your “person” to “persons”:

SECTION 16-15-130. Indecent exposure; breastfeeding.

(A)(1) It is unlawful for a person to wilfully, maliciously, and indecently expose his person in a public place, on property of others, or to the view of any person on a street or highway.

(2) This subsection does not apply to a woman who breastfeeds her own child in a public place, on property of others, to the view of any person on a street or highway, or any other place where a woman and her child are authorized to be.

(B) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (A)(1) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 16-413; 1952 Code Section 16-413; 1942 Code Section 1442; 1932 Code Section 1442; Cr. C. ’22 Section 383; Cr. C. ’12 Section 390; 1906 (25) 84; 1965 (54) 577; 1993 Act No. 184, Section 180; 2006 Act No. 269, Section 2, eff May 2, 2006.

Vrethammer stated: “For this to be a criminal offence it’s required that the sexual molestation was directed towards one or more people. I think the court’s judgement is reasonable.” However, one report noted that Vrethammer noted that it can still be disorderly conduct, which seems a bit of a conflict with the view that it is lawful. Consider this quote from Vrethammer: “The district court has made a judgement on this case. With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach. The act may be considered to be disorderly conduct.” It sounds like it depends on how a person intends to masturbate. Few judges would want to have to define that range of acceptable and unacceptable public masturbation.

39 thoughts on “Swedish Court Rules That Public Masturbation Is Legal”

  1. Svoogle: I think you make some valid points; the mistake is to look at us as a democracy. We are a free-for-all chaos-racy which continues to try to rope in a bunch of misfits.who were unable to adjust to responsible, tolerant governments back in the faterland.

  2. Juliet–
    Regarding said gentleman (let’s just name him “Ingbred Birdenhand, the human sundial”) Your responses bring into high relief the most perplexing question in all this: Why’s he wearing shoes at the beach?
    Actually, “Bingo!”. I’m on the same beach blanket as you Juliet; though, admittedly, I’ve been pulling hard for the guy.
    I’m surprised the defense didn’t claim he was a “stroke victim”!
    Any way, hope this doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way ( If so, type with the other hand).

  3. What is most interesting about this article are the comments from clueless Americans. You guys are so used to every inappropriate behavior being declared a crime, because that is the only way for your Banana Republic-style justice system to deal with things. The prosecutor clearly states that public masturbation will be handled as a disorderly conduct, which means it will be forbidden, and when Cops see you masturbating on the beach, they will ask you to stop and will give you a fine, probably between 100-300 Euros. That is it, no arrest, no more courts, lawyers, and DAs needed. That is how civilized countries deal with victimless “crimes”, but that is not how you maximize “profit” in a “for-profit” Banana Republic justice / incarceration system like the US.

  4. Sweden. Swedish. Well, a bit up north. Jerkin off in public might seem strange down in Florida but up in Sweden one has to do what one has to do in good weather. Otherwise the sun don’t shine on thee.

  5. Too bad Idealist didn’t live long enough to take advantage of this permissive law.

  6. Ironic that eating would come up in response to my comment.

    Ms. N
    I think you are mistaken and in fact a large number of people justify breastfeeding in public on the basis that it is natural. (Although I can’t say that it is a “vast majority of us” who feel that way.)

    1. So Bron,

      Are you intimating that Obama and congress are making a political statement and the US folks are the pivots…..

  7. Juliet, Not eating, although I would like to reserve the right to require those who eat w/ their mouths open to do so only in private.

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