Latvia -- Comments on Legal Ages
consent and other inequalities in Latvia
In 1992 the
Latvian Parliament repealed paragraph 124.1 of the Criminal Code and thus decriminalised
sexual acts between consenting men over 18 years of age. Nevertheless, homosexuals in
Latvia do not enjoy legal equality with their heterosexual fellow citizens, and are not
protected from discrimination.
Since the Soviet occupation of Latvia and until 1992, paragraph
124.1 made all sexual acts between men a criminal offence punishable by up to 5 years
imprisonment. Paragraph 124.2 (or now simply 124 - "Pederasty") criminalises
sexual acts between men if the act is committed with the use of violence or the threat of
violence, taking advantage of the victim's helplessness or dependent status, and if the
sexual act is committed with a person younger than 18 years of age. At the same time the
present Criminal Code's paragraph 122 ("Sexual acts comitted with a person who has
not reached the age of 16") provides that it is a criminal offence punishable by up
to four years imprisonment to have a sexual relations with a person younger than 16 years
of age. The current paragraph 124, which establishes 18 years as the minimum permitted age
for sexual acts between consenting men, therefore discriminates against homosexual men as
compared to heterosexuals and homosexual women. A salient feature of the Latvian Criminal
Code, as it clear from paragraphs 122 and 124, is that consenting sexual acts either
between a women and a man or between women do not constitute a criminal offence if both
parties to the acts are under 16. The same can be concluded regarding consenting sexual
acts between men if both parties are under 16 or between 16 and 18.
The higher age of consent for gay men is not the only legal
disadvantage suffered by homosexuals in Latvia. Among other legal provisions which
directly discriminate against homosexuals is paragraph 35.2 of the Latvian Civil Law.
Under this paragraph same-sex marriages are prohibited. The paragraph was introduced by
the Latvian Parliament in the early 1990s when the Civil Law from the 1930s (the first
period of Latvian independence) was re-adopted. As a result of this provision same-sex
couples are not entitled to any of the rights which opposite-sex couples are granted
automatically after marriage. Common-law cohabitation, whether between persons of
different sexes or the same sex, is not legally recognised in Latvia. Thus lesbian and gay
couples have no opportunity to regulate legally their relationships, property, finance, to
name but a few.
The possibility of challenging the constitutionality of paragraph
35.2 of the Civil Law as discriminating on the basis of the gender of the partners in
same-sex couples, and allowing to marry only couples in which the partners are of
different sexes is very limited. Firstly, the Satversme (Latvian Constitution) does not
contain any provisions regarding basic rights. Although in 1991 the Latvian Parliament
adopted a so-called constitutional law "On the Rights and Duties of Citizens and
Men" which contains a prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender, the Latvian
legal system does not recognise laws of this category as constitutional. This legal
problem will hopefully be resolved by the incorporation of a list of basic rights into the
Satversme, which is being discussed in Latvia at the moment and is expected after the
parliamentary elections later this year. The second problem is that citizens of Latvia do
not have a right of petition to the recently established Constitutional Court. Only a
limited number of state organs can initiate procedures before the Constitutional Court.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is not
illegal in Latvia. The abovementioned constitutional law "On the Right and Duties of
Citizens and Men" does not guarantee protection against discrimination on the grounds
of sexuality. Nor is such protection provided by paragraph 69 of the Criminal Code.
According to this paragraph, any discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin is a
The Homosexuality Information Centre in Riga is planning to
complete a project later this spring which will examine the legal disadvantages lesbians
and gay men face in Latvia, and will offer suggestions on legal reform with the goal of
providing homosexuals with legal equality with the rest of society. The same project will
provide information on the legal situation of homosexuals in different countries in Europe
and worldwide. The project will examine the activities regarding lesbian and gay equality
of such organisations as the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations.
The Latvian State Human Rights Bureau is extremely interested in and supports our project.
After the project is completed, the two organisations are planning a campaign aimed at
Latvian State institutions, MPs, and other officials and politicians, to lobby for
We would therefore greatly appreciate any information regarding
lesbian and gay rights in other countries. If you want to know more about the project or
share your information, please contact Juris Lavrikovs on firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 04-2001: (from email)
Well i did check your chart and i must tell you that i am more then suprised about what
did i see there... male/male and female/female sex is not illegal in latvia.
.. i red the provided link and so i believe you have based it on one article(qoute)
1) For pederasty, or lesbianism, or meeting the others sexual wishes by unnatural
way in case it is committed with violence or threat, or availing a persons
- Punishment by imprisonment up to six years or arrest.
i think you have misunderstood this article... it says pederasty or lesbianism IN CASE
IT IS COMMITED WITH...., not that it would be illegal as such....
LATVIA LAWS: 1. Has no sodomy laws, the age of sexual consent is 14 for all.
2. Only married couples can adopt and foster children.
3. Lesbians have no access to donor insemination.
4. Under paragraph 35.2 of the Latvian Civil Law same-sex marriages are prohibited.
Latvia - Lettonie - Letonia Riga
I. Ages for Legal Purposes
Age of majority The legal age of majority in Latvia is eighteen (18)
Age of consent to a sexual activity
The legal age of consent for sexual activity is sixteen (16) years.
Age of consent to marriage
The legal age of consent for marriage is sixteen (16) years.
Below we find the (unofficial) translation of articles from the Penal Code of Latvia on
the requested subject,
marked with *.
1) For sexual intercourse applying violence, threat or taking advantage of victims
helplessness (rape), -
Punishment by imprisonment up to seen years with further police supervision up to three
years or without it.
2) For rape committed by a person who had committed rape before, or committed in a group
well as for rape of a juvenile, -
Punishment by imprisonment for five to fifteen years with further police supervision
up to three years or without it.
3) For rape causing severe consequences as well as for rape of a child, -
Punishment by life imprisonment or imprisonment for ten to twenty years with
further police supervision up to three years or without it.
1) For pederasty, or lesbianism, or meeting the others sexual wishes by
unnatural way in case it is
committed with violence or threat, or availing a persons helplessness, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to six years or arrest.
2) For the same offences in case they are committed against juveniles or for the second
time, or it
was committed by a person who had committed rape before, or it was committed in group, -
Punishment by imprisonment for three to twelve years.
3) For meeting ones sexual wishes applying violence in case it caused severe
well as for the same acts committed with children, -
Punishment by imprisonment for five to fifteen years.
For sexual intercourse with a person under 16 years old who is materially or in any other
dependant on a guilty one, or in case this is done by a person in full age, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to four years.
1) For committing actions of lechery with a juvenile against his/her will or in case it
was done by
a person in full age, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to three years or arrest.
2) For committing actions of lechery with children, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to five years.
III. Other forms of child sex abuse
Sexual Abuse, Article 121 of the Penal Code
*For sexual Abuse committed in group or minors sexual abuse, imprisonment for five to
*For sexual abuse with particularly heavy consequences or committed by an especially
dangerous recidivist, as well as for child sex abuse, imprisonment for two to five years
with banishment or without, or death penalty.
Sexual intercourse with a person under sixteen (16) years, Article 122
of the Penal Code
*For sexual intercourse with a person under sixteen (16) years old, imprisonment for up to
Inveigling persons under sixteen (16) years old into lechery, Article 123 of
the Penal Code
*For inveigling persons under sixteen (16) years old into lechery, imprisonment for up to
Pederast, Article 124 of the Penal Code
*For pederasty committed with violence or threat to apply violence, availing victim
dependence, as well as the above mentioned committed against minors, imprisonment for
IV. Child prostitution
Article 164 (3)
3) For inducement or constraint of minors to prostitution or providing minors with
premises for prostitution, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to six years.
Article 166 (2) - (3)
2) For import, production, public demonstration, advertising or distribution in any other
pornographic material in which a child in a sexual act, a person in a sexual act with an
necrophile or violence of pornographic nature are described or depicted, as well as for
such material with the same purpose, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to three years or a fine up to fifty minimal month salaries.
3) For involving minors in or using them for production of pornographic material, -
Punishment by imprisonment up to five years or a fine up to eighty minimal month salaries.
Constraint to prostitution, Article 209 of the Penal Code
*For inducement of minors to prostitution, imprisonment for up to six years.
*For the offences specified in the third part of the Article, in case committed by a
before for infection of another person with venereal disease or infection of two and more
minors, imprisonment for up to five years.
V. Child pornography
Brake of the rules on pornographic material, import, production or
distribution, Article 166 (2) - (3) and 209 of
the Penal Code
*For import, production, distribution, public demonstration, advertising of pornographic
which a child in a sexual act, a person in a sexual act with an animal, necrophile or
pornographic nature are described or depicted, as well as for possession of such material
same purpose, for involving minors in pornographic material distribution, advertising or
with the same purpose, imprisonment for up to three years or a fine for up to fifty
salaries, confiscation of all the material.
*For the offences specified in the first and second parts of this Article, in case they
by a person convicted before for one of the crimes specified in this Article, as well as
minors in or using them for production of pornographic material, imprisonment for up to
years or a fine for up to 80 minimum month salaries, confiscation of all the material.