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. Isn’t this a natural act? Isn’t the enlightened view that natural acts may be conducted in public and that those who are offended should look away?

    1. Mahtso: No one says “natural acts” are fine for public viewing, in fact, I think the vast majority of us would prefer that most “natural acts” be kept private.

  2. !’m very laisez faire when it comes to nudity in appropriate public places, but the act in full view of others (not spying on a remote campsite, of course) is definitely a notch up from jaywalking in traffic.

  3. There is assault and then there is battery. Assault is aiming the gun at someone and battery is hitting them with a bullet from the gun. Or swinging the baseball bat over their head and then hitting them with it. Now if the guy scored it would be a battery. Probably 30 amp.

  4. Glad he’s not in Germany…. He’d be beating the brat…. Maybe he suffers from the Stockholm Stocking Syndrome…. But then again, you gotta give the man credit….he is 65…. Maybe not an easy task…….

    Slong Time Coming….l

  5. I gotta go with Tony and the Prof on this one. Declaring that public masturbation isn’t per se assault isn’t the same thing as giving it the green light.

  6. Well, I think the point is that it is not assault. I don’t expect a Swedish cop to have necessarily mastered all the nuances of English; and “okay” may mean to him not an offense worthy of arrest (like assault).

  7. Isn’t it great that we have persons, i,e, judges, with Duh-grees to keep us informed as to what is considered legal, and therefore encouraged as to what is socially acceptable. I awake every morning thankful that such business is being cared for by these educated Ones. Helps me to sleep well.

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