The Law in Italy governing Indecent Behaviour
British tourists visiting Italy should be aware that Italy prides itself on preserving its cultural heritage, public behaviour and a sense of decorum in public places should be maintained. Local customs and laws related to conduct in public relating to indecency are quite strict.
The recent press reports involving Kanye West and his wife Bianca Censori apparently exhibiting conduct amounting to a breach of public decency whilst travelling on the canals in Venice in a river taxi, invoking considerable comment both in Italy and across the world.
Indecent and lewd behaviour in Italy is primarily regulated by the Italian Penal Code (Codice Penale) and local ordinances. The Italian Penal Code covers a wide range of offences, including those related to public decency and morality. While these laws apply to both Italian citizens and foreigners, this article will focus on how they affect foreigners visiting or residing in Italy.
Article 726 of the Italian Penal Code addresses public indecency. It prohibits individuals from performing acts of indecency or lewdness in public places, which includes exposing one's self or engaging in sexual acts in view of the public. This law applies in equal measure to foreigners who engage in such behaviour can be prosecuted under this provision.
Additionally, Article 527 of the Italian Penal Code addresses the offence of exhibitionism. It criminalises the act of exposing oneself in front of others. Foreigners who engage in exhibitionism can be charged under this article and may face penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
Often young British tourists in Italy lose their inhibitions and behave in a way that could result in arrest. The police in Italy are far stricter in this respect than in the UK where, if the issue is considered minor the perpetrator may be let off by the police with no more than a telling-off. If you have been arrested in Italy for any reason, it is imperative that you instruct an English speaking Italy lawyer to advise and assist you. The outcome of arrest in Italy may not just be the penalties you receive but also the impact when you return home as far as your job, your ability to travel abroad and family relationships.
Vincenzo Senatore, senior partner in the London office commented “penalties for public indecency may include fines and, in more serious cases, imprisonment. The severity of the punishment depends on the specific circumstances of the offence and whether it involved minors or non-consenting individuals.” Vincenzo further commented “in the case of Kanye West the conduct was between consenting adults but most certainly appeared to break the law and the couple could not have failed to realise that they could easily be observed by members of the public.”
Kanye West and his wife appear to have indulged in what could be considered deliberately provoking behaviour whilst in Italy. Bianca Censori having appeared twice in public wearing outfits that were described as “near naked” which is also contrary to Italian law in respect of public decency.
In addition to national laws, many Italian cities and regions have local ordinances that govern public behaviour. These ordinances may include regulations related to dress codes, conduct on beaches, and behaviour in public spaces. Foreigners should be aware of and respect these local rules to avoid legal consequences.
Giambrone & Partners criminal defence lawyers point out that the legal consequences for individuals found guilty of having indulged in indecent behaviour can amount to various penalties, including fines, community service, or imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the offence and any prior criminal record. Additionally, those convicted may also be subject to deportation, depending on the circumstances and the discretion of Italian authorities.
Our English speaking Italian criminal defence lawyers have a wealth of experience in providing British tourists with a defence in the courts outlining any mitigating circumstances.
Vincenzo Senatore is dually qualified Italian Avvocato (with Higher Rights of Audience) and English Solicitor and also qualified to plead before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Vincenzo advises clients in a broad range of matters including national and international businesses, focussing on complex cross-border issues, assisting in contentious commercial issues involving share price disputes, breaches of contract and merger and acquisition disputes.
Vincenzo is well-regarded for his astute analysis of complex situations and his agile ability to navigate the intricacies involved in cross-border disputes. He recognises that alternative dispute resolution (conciliation, mediation and arbitration) are often more suited to the best interests of the client. Where litigation is undertaken, Vincenzo is focused and rigorous in his pursuit of a successful outcome for our clients. He also has extensive experience in cross-border criminal cases from matters involving breaches of the peace to assisting and advising on suspicious deaths abroad.