Masturbating in Public – is it legal (in Sweden)?

Introduction

We covered public nudity on 18th September 2013. The next day, we get news from Sweden of a case that poses the question ‘when is masturbating in public a crime?

 

The Court Case

An unnamed 65 year old man was brought before Södertörn District Court charged with ‘sexual assault/molestation’ (a caveat with all of this – it’s all based on English language publications, which has its inherent difficulties, before considering the fact that Swedish law is very different to English).

It seems that whilst on a beach, the man dropped his trousers and started to masturbate into the wind. At the conclusion of the trial, the Judge acquitted him saying, according to the prosecutor, that whilst it was proved that the man was in fact masturbating; “For this to be a criminal offence it’s required that the sexual molestation was directed towards one or more people“.

 

In England?

EU harmonisation only goes so far – these isn’t a green light for anyone in England. Here, the main offence would Exposure (if you’ve read the Daily Mail article, you may be surprised that they didn’t get the law 100% right. Or you may not) contrary to s66 Sexual Offences Act 2003. This requires that someone exposes their genitals intending “that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress“.

But what if you are, as in the Swedish case, not directed it at anyone? We don’t know enough about the facts of the case, but it is likely that if someone were to give the account to an English jury that they weren’t intending anyone to see or be alarmed or distressed, the jury would give them short shrift, even though on the facts, they may be entitled to an acquittal (of that offence at least).

The other offence (which is probably easier to prove) is outraging public decency, which we looked at here. That was the offence that Vlasdimil Kepr was charged with after he cycled a bike through a shopping centre in Leeds, one hand on the handlebars whilst he used the other to perform a ‘solo sex act’ as the local newspaper coyly put it. For this he got a Community Order and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from the shopping centre and any female toilets or changing rooms, as well as a requirement to be on the Sex Offenders Register.

 

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About Dan Bunting

I'm a lawyer who works for myself. Legal geek, maths freak, general dullard and jack of all trades. Here’s a few views on law and occasional musings on life. Usual caveats about not relying on anything I say etc applies.

7 thoughts on “Masturbating in Public – is it legal (in Sweden)?

  1. Andrew

    Agreed, sisterhood, but I suspect this chap needs help. Into the wind? Please!

    You are turning me into an old reactionary!

    Reply
  2. 512productions

    This is very interesting and topical, I am suprised that this has come up so openly. Its amazing how differently a law should be viewed in a European country that is part of the same European Union as The UK are.

    Reply
  3. henry lester

    It gets better.512 .That’s the way it should be.We’re different as well as the same.I ‘m pretty sure they don’t allow national ID cards in Sweden and I’m pretty sure you can be arrested without one in France. My personal favorite is the judge ruling over the case of one or the other Ireland’s people who sabotaged missile components in a Raytheon factory .When asked why they did it (and it is to be understood they showed more co-operation and balls than most criminals),They gave a reply to the effect that they had reason to believe it was going to be used in a war crime.I personally believe the judge must have had some understanding of life in those countries and thus rapidly came to support them:FREE to go.I’m sure I’m a romantic and there’s a lot more to it,including prior case law in English law Two women smashing hawk jets parts bound for Indonesian campaigns against the East Timores:FREE to go.

    Reply
  4. Matthew

    Interesting that he was masturbating “into the wind” – is that code for an arcane Swedish practice? We should withhold judgement until it is explained.

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Why was the mayor banned from sunbathing naked? | UK Criminal Law Blog

  6. Pingback: Eugenio Freitas banned from every supermarket in the UK | UK Criminal Law Blog

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