Ages of consent in Europe

The ages of consent for sexual activity vary by jurisdiction across Europe. Spain has the lowest age of consent in Europe (set at 13) while Turkey and Malta have the highest, set at 18. The law can also stipulate the specific activities that are permitted and/or differentially specify the age at which a given gender can participate. Below is a discussion of the various laws dealing with this subject. The highlighted age refers to an age at or above which an individual can engage in unfettered sexual relations with another who is also at or above that age. Other variables, for close in age exceptions may exist, for relating to defences in Cyprus and Greece (that applies for opposite-sex and female-female sexual conduct only and not for male-male sexual conduct) and a higher age of consent just for male-male sexual conduct are noted in Gibraltar, Greece (for the male-male partners over 18) and Guernsey. All other places in Europe have an equal age of consent, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.

Andorra

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."

Andorran Criminal Code

Austria

The general age of consent in Austria is 14, as specified by Sections 206 and 207. The age of consent is 13, if the partner is not more than three years older, as determined in the close in age exception in section 206 (4). Section 207 covers sexual acts not involving penetration, in which the close in age exception (4) permits a difference of up to four years as long as the younger partner is at least twelve years of age.

Austrian Criminal Code (in German)

History

The Austrian Criminal Code previously specified 18 as the age of consent for homosexual sex in which the other partner was aged 14-18, while no equivalent provision existed for opposite-sex 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.

Belarus

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."

Belarus Criminal Code (in Russian) (relevant articles last changed by laws in May 4 2005 - National register of legal acts of Byelorussia, 2005, ? 74, 2/1112)

Provisionally english translation of the relevant articles of the Belarus Criminal Code

Belgium

The age of consent in Belgium is 16 except towards "close" persons (18 in this case), 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).

''Will be punished by imprisonment of ten to fifteen years the assault on modesty committed, without violence or threat, by any parent or adoptant, on the person or with the help of the person of a minor, even aged more than sixteen, but not emancipated by marriage. The same penalty will be enforced if the culprit is EITHER the minor victim's brother or sister or all persons who hold a similar position inside the family, OR any person usually or occasionally cohabiting with or has authority over the minor.''"

Belgian Criminal Code : in French & in Dutch

History

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

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The age of consent in Bosnia-Herzegovina is 14. This is not expressly stated in legislation however, Article 207 (Sexual Intercourse with a Child) reads "Whoever performs sexual intercourse or equivalent sexual act on a child, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term between one and eight years" and Article 2(8) reads "A child, as referred to in this Code, is a person who has not reached fourteen years of age".

Bulgaria

The age of consent in Bulgaria is 14, as specified by Article 149. 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."

Bulgarian Criminal Code

Croatia

The age of consent in Croatia is 14, as specified by the Croatian Criminal Code. NN 110 art 192 (1997) (in croatian)

History

Homosexual acts were illegal until 1977, when Yugoslav federations (Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Vojvodina) changed their Penal Code. Age of consent was equalised in 1998.

Cyprus

The age of consent for "carnal knowledge"/"fornication" (penetration) in Cyprus is 17 for both heterosexual and homosexual acts. The Age of Consent for Woman/Boy anal intercourse is 13 years. No age limit for other contacts.

History

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 which would have abolished the ban. Strong opposition from the 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 strong pressure from the EU the Government finally ended the discriminatory provisions and changed the age of consent to 17 for both heterosexual and homosexual acts.

Czech Republic

The age of consent in the Czech Republic is 15, as specified by the Czech Penal Code, Section 242, which reads: "A person who has sexual intercourse with a child under 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."

Czech Criminal Code (in Czech language)

History

Until 1961, homosexual acts were illegal. The new Penal Code, introduced in that year, decriminalised homosexual acts but specified an age of consent for such acts of 18. In 1990, this, and other discrepancies, were removed and the age of consent was reduced to 15, in line with heterosexual acts.

Denmark

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

Danish Criminal Code (in Danish)

History

Male homosexual acts were legalised in Denmark (lesbianism was never illegal) with an age of consent set at 15, after a major reform of the Penal Code in 1930; However the age of consent at that time for heterosexual acts (which was odd at the time) was 20. In 1976, the age of consent was equalised at 15 for all acts .

Faroe Islands

The age of consent in the Faroe Islands is 15 §222, which reads;

"Den, som har samleje med et barn under 15 år, straffes med fængsel indtil 6 år."

However it is 18 for those in a position of trust (Eg. teachers) §223, which reads;

"Den, som har samleje med en person under 18 år, der er den skyldiges adoptivbarn, stedbarn eller plejebarn eller er betroet den pågældende til undervisning eller opdragelse, straffes med fængsel indtil 4 år."

Estonia

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 3 years' imprisonment.''"

Estonian Criminal Code

History

Until 1992, male homosexual sex was illegal, the Estonian 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

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."

Finnish Penal Code

History

Until 1971, homosexual acts were prohibited. After decriminalisation, the age of consent was set at 18 for homosexual acts, and 16 for heterosexual acts. In 1998, the age of consent was equalised to 16 for all sexual acts; although the Finnish Government had proposed an age of consent of 15, the Parliament chose an age of consent of 16 instead.

France

The age of consent in France is 15, as specified by Article 227-25, 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.''"

French Penal Code

See also French petitions against age of consent laws

History

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. In 1942, the age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 21, while that for heterosexual acts was 13. The latter was increased to 15 in 1945. In 1978, the age for homosexual acts was lowered to 18. In 1981, it was lowered to 15, in line with that for heterosexual acts.

Germany

The age of consent in Germany is 14, as long as a person over the age of 21 does not exploit the 14-15 year-old victim's lack of capacity for sexual self-determination. In this rare and special case, a conviction on an individual over the age of 21 is reliant on a complaint from the younger individual.

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 [...]"

§ 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.''"

Relevant paragraph of the German criminal code (in the version of April 1 2004; last changed by a law in 2003.)

German Criminal Code (out of date)

German Criminal Code in Spanish (translated by Claudia López Diaz)

Further reading: *Recht, was ist erlaubt?(What is permitted?) Comparison of AOC laws in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. (In German)

Greece

The unfettered age of consent in Greece is 17, with exceptions for heterosexual relations and close in age exceptions for male homosexual relations.

The general provision for age of consent in Greece is 15 as specified by Section 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 an adult (amongst other prohibitions regarding positions of authority and acts of lewdness). In Greek law the age of majority is set at 18. 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.

'''Further reading:

History

Male homosexual acts were legalised in Greece in 1951.

Hungary

The age of consent in Hungary is 14 as specified by Section 201 (Seduction), which reads: "The person who has sexual intercourse with a person who has not yet completed his 14th year, as well as the person who has completed his 18th year and engages in fornication with a person who has not yet exceeded his 14th year of age, commits a felony and shall be punishable with imprisonment from 1 to 5 years."

Hungarian Criminal Code (in Hungarian)

History

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

The age of consent in Iceland is 14, as specified by Section 202, which reads: "Anyone who has carnal intercourse or other sexual intimacy with a child younger than 14 years shall be subject to imprisonment for at least 1 year and up to 16 years.''"

Icelandic Penal Code (in Icelandic)

Italy

The age of consent in Italy is 14 years, with a close in age exception that reduces the minimum age to 13 if the participants' ages are less than 3 years apart. The age of consent if one of the participants has some kind of influence on the other is 16 (e.g. teacher, tutor, biological or adoptive parent). It is also illegal to perform sexual acts in the presence of a minor with the intent of allowing the minor to witness the acts, even if they do not take an active part. (art. 690-quinquies Codice Penale)

Articles on Italian "Codice penale" (in Italian).

Latvia

The age of consent in Latvia is complex, generally the unfettered age of consent is 16. Sexual activities that do not involve vaginal intercourse can occur from age 14 (including same sex acts). Under some conditions a kind of close in age exception for those between 14 and 16 exists for vaginal intercourse.

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."

History

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 which 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 14 if the other person was under 18, and 16 if the other person was over 18. In 2001, the law was amended to clarify the situation and confirm that the age of consent was 14 (or 16 if the person was older than 18) for all acts.

Lithuania

The age of consent in Lithuania is 14, as specified by the Lithuanian Criminal Code §???.

Lithuanian Criminal Code = Lietuvos Respublikos baud?iamasis kodeksas (in Lithuanian)

History

Until 1993, male homosexual acts were prohibited under the Lithuanian Penal 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.

Luxembourg

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."

Luxembourgish Penal Code (in French)

Malta

The age of consent for "carnal knowledge" in Malta is 18, as specified by the Malta Criminal Code, Article 203, which reads:"''Whosoever, by lewd acts, defiles a minor of either sex, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment...''" In Malta the age of majority is 18.

Malta Criminal Code

Netherlands

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 (12) but not yet sixteen (16), 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."; and (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."

Also sex under 16 is allowed with a close in age exception that reduces the minimum age to 12 if the participants' ages are less than 4 years apart

Dutch Criminal Code (in Dutch)

Norway

The age of consent in Norway is 16, as specified by the Norwegian General Civil Code §196 which reads: "''Any person who commits or is accessory to another person's committing an act of indecency with any person who is under 16 years of age shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.''"

The sexual act may not be punishable if those involved are of a "similar age or development".

Norwegian General Civil Code

Poland

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 1 and 10 years." "§ 2. The same punishment shall be imposed on anyone, who records pornographic material with the participation of such a person."

Polish Criminal Code (in Polish)

History

Poland never imposed laws against homosexuality. However, during the 19th century 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

Since September 2007, the age of consent laws of Portugal states 14, regardless of sexual behaviour, gender and/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. Also in Portugal it is illegal to perform a sexual act with a minor between 14 and 16 years old "by taking advantage of their inexperience" .

History

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 opposite sex 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 and/or sexual orientation is 14 .

See also: LGBT rights in Portugal

Republic of Ireland

The age of consent in the Republic of Ireland is 17 for carnal contact, with non-carnal contact being allowed at 15, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender (although this relies on an interpretation of what "carnal contact" and "non-carnal contact" refers to). Sex with a minor over the age of 15 carries a lower sentence than that for when the minor is below 15, although the punishments were raised in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2006.

History

The heterosexual age of consent was set in the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1935. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993, following the ruling of the European Court in Norris vs. Ireland with the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993. This same act places an age of 15 on acts of "gross indecency" between male homosexuals, but with no definition of what these are.

Republic of Kosovo

The age of consent in Kosovo is 14, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.

History

Kosovo legalized male homosexuality in 1970. The age of consent became equal at 14 in 1991.

Romania

The age of consent in Romania is 15, as specified by the Romanian Criminal Code, Article 218 (Sexual intercourse with a minor), which reads: "Sexual intercourse, of any nature, with a person of the other sex or of the same sex, who has not reached the age of 15, shall be punished by strict imprisonment from 3 to 10 years and the prohibition of certain rights."

Having sex with a minor over the age of 15 until the age of 18 is statutory rape if the sexual act is done by two categories: I. The person abused his or her authority or influence over the victim or the victim's trust. II. The person is the tutor, curator, superviser, providing care, medication or education and using that capacity over the victim to gain consent.

Romanian Criminal Code

Russia

As specified by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, the age of consent in Russia is 16. However, only a person over 18 can be charged. Charges are relatively low (up to 4 years of prison), regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender and "obscene actions" (with even less charges). It should be noted that 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).

Further reading:

Serbia

The age of consent in Serbia is 14, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender. There is no specific legal stipulation stating what the actual age of consent is, however there are specific criminal offences referring to the lower age limit in The Penal Code. This area is regulated by Chapter 12 (Crimes Against Personal Dignity and Morality) of the Penal Code of the Republic of Serbia and especially Section(s) 106 (prohibiting "lewd acts" with a person, not referring to gender specifically, under the age of 14 and section 110 (prohibiting "lewd" acts" with a male person under the age of 14). There is no specific reference to "lewd acts" between two females of the same offence. Vojvodina is a region in Serbia that has it's own Penal Code.

History

Since 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, 14 for all other sexual conduct. Since 2006, an equal age of consent came into force, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender - There is an area 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 14 is punishable by imprisonment from 1 to 8 years. There is no specific reference to "lewd acts" between two females of the same offence. An equal age of consent of 14 since 2006, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender in Serbia.

Slovakia

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

History

Until 1961, homosexual acts were prohibited, however the new Criminal Code of that year decriminalised such behaviour. However, under Paragraph 244, the age of consent for homosexual acts was set at 18, whereas it remained 15 for heterosexual acts. In 1990, the Penal Code was amended to treat hetero- and homosexual acts equally; Paragraph 244 was repealed and the age of consent became 15 for all.

Slovenia

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. ''"

Slovenian Penal Code

History

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

The age of consent in Spain is 13, as specified by the Spanish Penal Code, Article 181(2). However, if deceit is used in gaining the consent of a minor under 16 years an individual can be charged under Article 183(1) upon parental complaint.

"181(1) El que, interviniendo engaño, cometiere abuso sexual con persona mayor de trece años y menor de dieciséis, será castigado con la pena de prisión de uno a dos años, o multa de doce a veinticuatro meses.
(Approximate translation: An individual who, by use of deceit, commits sexual abuse with a person over thirteen years and under sixteen years, will be punished with imprisonment for one or two years, or a fine equivalent to twelve or twenty-four months...)
(2) A los efectos del apartado anterior, se consideran abusos sexuales no consentidos los que se ejecuten sobre menores de trece años, sobre personas que se hallen privadas de sentido o de cuyo trastorno mental se abusare."
(Approximate translation: To the effects of the previous section, it is considered unconsenting sexual abuse those that are committed against persons under thirteen years, unconscious persons or persons whose mental illness is taken advantage of....)

History

Homosexual acts have been legal in Spain since 1822 (with the exception of the offence of "habitual homosexual acts" in the years 1928-32). 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:

Sweden

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.''"

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 March 30, 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)

Swedish Criminal Code

History

Until 1944, homosexual acts were prohibited - and had been since 1864 - until they were decriminalised in that year, but with a higher age of consent (18) than for heterosexual acts (15). The age of consent was equalised at 15 for all sexual acts in 1978.

Switzerland

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 .

Turkey

The age of consent in Turkey is the age of majority (set at 18), as specified by the 2004 Turkish Penal Code Art. 103 & 104. The breach is punishable from 6 months to 22.5 years of imprisonment depending on the age of the minor, age of the perpetrator and whether the perpetrator is a parent, guardian, caregiver or tutor. The legislation applies to all, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.

History

The former Turkish Penal Code of 1927 punished having sex with a minor as statutory rape.

Ukraine

The age of consent in Ukraine is considered 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 . Those under 14 are considered children in Ukraine 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.

Ukrainian Criminal Code

United Kingdom (and dependencies)

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a country and sovereign state consisting of the jurisdictions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. UK national age of consent legislation does not apply to its dependencies.

England and Wales

The age of consent in England and Wales is 16, as specified by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 . However it is illegal for a person to engage in sexual activity with an individual under the age of 18 if they are in a position of trust in relation to that individual (teacher, warder, care giver, guardian, etc).

Further reading:

History
The age of consent for heterosexual acts was set at 12 in 1275 and remained so for six centuries. 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. All male-male homosexual activity had been illegal since the Buggery Act 1533 and this was reinforced in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. 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".

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, the 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 such 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.

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 8 of the Convention. In response, the Government introduced the Crime and Disorder Bill which 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 thus equalised the age of consent at 16 for all sexual acts (including, for the first time, lesbian acts).

Scotland

The age of consent in Scotland is 16, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender, as specified by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000.

Current developments
Under the Scottish Law Commission's draft Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill, published in December 2007, rape and other sexual offences would become gender-neutral

History
In Scotland most sexual offences are contained in the Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, which replaced the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 1976. For heterosexual acts the age of consent is 16, with increased penalties for offences involving girls under 13.

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.

Northern Ireland

Under this current statute Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 - The age of consent in Northern Ireland is 17, as specified by various statutes. From April 2008 it will be 16 - in line with the rest of the United Kingdom.

A new statute, the Sexual Offences NI Order 2008, has been introduced and debated and will lower the age of consent to 16, bringing Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the United Kingdom at 16. This statute becomes effective as of April 2008.

History
Male homosexual acts were 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. The change was a result of the judgment 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 was lowered to 17 for male homosexual acts – putting the age of consent in line with heterosexual acts – by the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, Section 1.

Although the legal age of consent in Northern Ireland is 17, the legal marriageable age, with parental consent, is 16. However, Section 1 of the Age of Marriage Act (NI) 1951 provides a defence for a husband who has sexual intercourse with his 16 year old wife. But that will soon all change when the age of consent becomes 16 (effective from April 2008 under the Sexual Offences NI Order 2008)

Gibraltar

In Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, the age of consent is 16 for heterosexual and female homosexual acts, while the age of consent for male homosexual acts is maintained at 18.

History
Male homosexual acts were decriminalised in Gibraltar since 1993 where the above conditions were set. An equal age of consent of 16 for all maybe coming soon .

Current developments

The "equal" or "uniform" age of consent legislation in Gibraltar is awaiting a "requête". In the past four years very fierce debates have been held in Gibraltar regarding a "uniform" age of consent of 16, even from the Council of Europe and Gordon Brown in the UK supporting an equal age of consent for all regardless at 16 in all UK Territories. In February 2008, a proposed law will be introduced into the Gibraltar Parliament to equalize the age of consent to 16 for everyone regardless. Since 2003, a "requête" was introduced and has always failed to pass or get an approval, in 2008 it maybe likely to be passed by the middle or the end of the year. Currently under all these; Intervention by the Prime Minister of the UK, constitutional mandates, court cases, treaties with the EU, the Council of Europe, law(s) or legislation under investigation, intervening, reviewing, accessing and maybe getting equalised very soon. .

Further reading

Guernsey (Including Alderney, Herm and Sark)

The age of consent in the Bailiwick of Guernsey (a Crown Dependency including Alderney, Herm and Sark) is 16 for heterosexual and female homosexual acts, while the current age of consent for male homosexual acts is maintained at 18. This could soon change by the middle of 2008 (See Further reading below)

History

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 . By the middle of 2008, this could soon be changed for to be equalized at 16. For more information below see:

Current developments

The "equal" or "uniform" age of consent legislation in the Bailiwick of Guernsey (Including Alderney, Herm and Sark) is awaiting a "requête". Since 2005, on-going debates have been held in the House of Guernsey regarding a "uniform" age of consent. Over the past two years, a proposed law to equalize the age of consent to 16 for everyone, regardless was introduced as a "requête" - This law maybe likely to be approved by the middle of 2008.

Further reading

Isle of Man

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

History
Prior to September 1992, sodomy was illegal, then in October 1992 (after assent) the age of consent was set at 21 for sodomy (in line with the UK at that time), then in 1997, the age of consent for male homosexual acts was lowered to 18. In 2006, the age of consent was lowered to 16, became gender-neutral for all sexual conduct, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.

See also:

Jersey

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

History
Prior to 1990, sodomie (sodomy) was illegal 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) . In 1995, the sodomie AoC 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 sodomie); regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender.

Further reading

Further reading

Worldwide age of consent

References

See also

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This article is based on "Ages of consent in Europe" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ages+of+consent+in+Europe&action=history