Bill raising age limit for sexual self-determination admitted into handling

  • 2021-11-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - A bill seeking to amend the Penal Code and the Family Law Act by raising the age of sexual self-determination in Estonia from 14 to 16 has been admitted into handling by the parliament by a decision of the board of the Riigikogu.

The age limit for sexual self-determination would be raised to 16 years from the current limit of 14 years. Currently, according to the Penal Code, the age limit for sexual self-determination in Estonia is 14 years, which means that sexual intercourse between an adult and a child under the age of 14 is punishable as a sexual offense for the adult.

As an exception, the bill would introduce a so-called Romeo and Juliet clause allowing a five-year age range for young people aged 14-15, meaning that a young person up to 19 years old can have intercourse with a 14-year-old and a person up to 20 years old can have intercourse with a 15-year-old.

The age limits for non-contact, so-called child pornography offenses will also be changed to preclude punishment for the handling of pornographic material created in the context of a voluntary and age-appropriate relationship. To this end, these offenses will be made subject to exclusion of incriminating circumstances, as well as a five-year age range.

The aim of the bill is to protect children from being sexually exploited by adults. At the same time, it is important that children and young people are not punished for engaging in consensual sexual relations with each other.

In addition, the Family Law Act will be amended to repeal the exceptional minimum age of marriage for minors. Under current family law, a person who has reached the age of 15 can marry if a court has extended the legal capacity of the minor to perform the acts necessary for the conclusion of the marriage and the exercise of the rights and obligations related to marriage.

The legal affairs committee of the parliament was appointed as the lead committee.