Sex and the Law

Lots of things sum up your teenage years and growing up: your first crush, first feelings, being in love, your first kiss, cuddling, your first time, intimacy, familiarity and lots more. These things that can and do happen during these years are beautiful and important experiences, for everyone: regardless of whether you are hetero, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, transgender, inter*, queer, questioning, intersexual or anything else. But there are some legal aspects you and your parents need to know about during this phase of your life. An exciting and stimulating time but also a legal minefield of German laws. Read on to find out what is forbidden and what is allowed.

Please remember: These laws and regulations that we have summarised for you here are only valid in Germany! When going on holiday do remember that different legal provisions may be in place at your destination.

From Article 1 of the German Constitution:

"The dignity of the human being is inviolable,"  this fundamental and universal value naturally also applies in sexuality. 

Article 2 of the German Constitution states:

“Every person shall have the right to free development of his personality …”, this obviously also includes their own sexuality.

This means every person has the right to be how they want. That they can live out their sexuality as they wish, obviously as long as this does not harm others, exceed legal limits and as long as both individuals consent.

In the case of young persons, § 1 JuSchG (Paragraph 1 of the Youth Protection Act or “Jugendschutzgesetz”) still applies because

  • Persons under 14 are children and

  • Persons who are 14 or over but not yet 18 years of age are still underage

and therefore subject to different legal provisions depending on their age.

In Germany young persons from their 14th birthday have the right to sexual self-determination. Basically, young persons can therefore live out their sexuality freely from this age.

But Beware!

Under certain circumstances (like a lack of maturity) there are graduated legal provisions which make living out your sexuality forbidden.

But what does “sexual self-determination” actually mean?

And this is where the legal minefield begins.

In §§ 173-184 StGB (Paragraphs 173-174 of the German Criminal Code or “Strafgesetzbuch”) German legislators try to protect all persons from abuse, especially children and young persons. These paragraphs aimed at your protection refer continually to “sexual acts”. Because covered under this term are not just acts of sexual intercourse but also intense cuddling, petting, oral or anal sex, digital penetration or penetration with other things.