Italy’s highest court has ruled that public masturbation is not a crime — as long as it is not happening in the presence of minors.
The Italian Supreme Court was deliberating over the case of a 69-year-old man who was arrested for masturbating in Catania, a city on Sicily’s east coast.
The man performed the act in front of students on the University of Catania campus, according to documents filed with Supreme Court, reports CNN.
The man was convicted in May 2015 and sentenced to three months in prison and a fine of around $3,600.
However, the man’s lawyer appealed to the country’s highest court and his sentence got overturned.
The judges ruled that his act was out of the presence of minors, which makes it not a criminal conduct.
The ruling has got to do with a change in the law last year which decriminalised the act of public masturbation.
However, if the act is witnessed by a minor, the person charged can face imprisonment of up to four-and-a-half years.
The man’s case has been sent back to local courts in Catania to determine what the administrative fine (between around $5,600 to $34,00) will be.
A similar case happened in Sweden in 2013: A Swedish man was caught masturbating on a beach on Stockholm.
However the court acquitted the man, ruling that he had not committed an offence because ‘he did not direct his activities towards a specific person.’
In the UK, masturbation in public is considered as an act of indecent exposure with a sentence of around 14 days of imprisonment, depending on the circumstance.
And in Indonesia, the act can land one a maximum sentence of 32 months of imprisonment.