No Prison for Dating: Teen Sex Won't Be Criminalized in Germany
Germany's grand coalition government has watered down sex crime legislation following fierce criticism that its original plans would punish teen sex rather than protect young people. The new law would still punish adults for abusing minors.
A teenage couple doing what comes naturally.
The original plans had envisaged making it a crime for teenagers, aged between 14 and 17 years, to offer money or something else of value in order to obtain sex from another minor. Critics complained that the legislation could conceivably have made inviting someone to a party or to a movie into a criminal offense if it ended in sexual contact.
Under the current law the sexual abuse of minors is only deemed to have occurred if the perpetrator is over 18 and the victim is under 16, but new European Union guidelines now seek to protect those aged 16 and 17. According to Gehb, the new German legislation will maintain the age limit of 18 and a teenager would only be prosecuted if he or she purchased sex from an underaged youth.
A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry confirmed to reporters on Tuesday that the coalition had discussed the new legislation. He said there had been little room for maneuver as the current law was being amended to bring it into line with the new EU guidelines. The spokesperson said that it had never been the intention of the government to criminalize intimacy between teenagers. The aim had been to prevent young people from falling into prostitution.
The opposition reacted positively to the news. Jörg van Essen of the liberal Free Democratic Party said that the original plans to change the age limit for sexual abuse had been "completely incomprehensible." And he said the different penalties for child and teen pornography represented a "step in the right direction." According to Essen, the draft legislation would only be acceptable if it provided a balance between "sexual self-realization and the protection of young people from sexual abuse."
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