Sexual self-determination

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Sexual self-determination as a legal asset means that everyone has the right to freely determine their sexuality and to find protection against assault or sexual offenses ( crimes against sexual self-determination ). In Switzerland the term sexual integrity (criminal offenses against sexual integrity) is used, and in Austria both terms (criminal acts against sexual integrity and self-determination) are used. In addition, the term describes a concept of values , to the development of which the women's movement , later human rights organizations, and then the lesbian and gay movement contributed significantly . In the Federal Republic of Germany, the right to sexual self-determination is derived from the interpretation of the Basic Law , Art. 1, and is reflected in the Great Criminal Law Reform of November 23, 1973, for example in the decriminalization of homosexuality or premarital and extramarital sexual intercourse, but also in decisive ones later legislative changes such as the criminalization of marital rape.

In addition to freedom from verbal, non-verbal and physical abuse, sexual self-determination includes both sexual orientation and the free choice of (adult) sexual partners. In relation to gender identity , it can be realized as ( transgender , intersexuality , cisgender ) and vary in the form of (sexual) relationships.


Attitude of religions

A far-reaching right to self-determination emerged only in the course of history and with the relaxation of religiously based regulations on sexual ethics and has not yet been fully implemented even in Western societies . For example, the Old Testament in Deuteronomy ( 5 Mos 22:21  EU ) allowed a woman who was no longer a virgin at the time of marriage to be stoned at the request of her husband .

In some areas with an Islamic legal system ( Sharia ), extramarital sexual intercourse ( adultery ) or homosexuality are still punished as fornication with death. For a long time, so-called “ honor killings ” have been committed by immigrants, mostly of Islamic origin, in disregard of the respective legal system , even though vigilante justice is prohibited in Islam.

National Socialism

In the Third Reich , homosexual people were discriminated against, persecuted and threatened with imprisonment in concentration camps, which in the majority of cases ended in death. Women and girls with promiscuous behavior were also deported to women concentration camps as sexually neglected .

“Hereditary healthy German women” should bear many children. Abortions were banned in their home, abortion drugs were banned in 1933, and sentences were increased in 1943. Access to contraceptives was also made more difficult and, from 1935, Lebensborn helped unmarried unmarried women with children, mostly from SS men, to carry their children to term. Married members of the SS were asked to fulfill their “national obligation” and to maintain extra-marital contact with tall, blonde “Aryan” women in order to father healthy children. On the other hand, in July 1933, in certain cases, sterilization under the supervision of the authorities was promoted and, with a change in 1935, abortions were also possible in these cases. With the Nuremberg Laws , marriage and extramarital sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews were forbidden; later this was extended to other groups of people who were considered “inferior” ( foreigners ). With the increase in the penalty for abortion, abortion for persons of "non-German ethnicity" was exempted and promoted. In the concentration camps, brothels with “asocial” and “foreigner” women were set up as a perk to increase the prisoners' work performance.

Recent history

The concept of sexual neglect was used in the old Federal Republic until the 1970s to admit girls and young women with behavior that deviated from the norms in nursing homes. This also happened in part to the victims of sexual abuse . The sanctioning of sexual behavior norms took extreme forms in Ireland , where until the 1990s tens of thousands of women were forcibly detained in homes of the Magdalene Order ( see Magdalenenheim ), often on suspicion, and had to do unpaid work.

Special protection for children

As far as the living out of sexuality includes the participation of children , the autonomous self-determination is legally regulated in many countries:

Children enjoy special legal protection. Since the 4th law on the reform of criminal law of November 23, 1973, the overall development of the child undisturbed by premature sexual experiences has been a protected legal asset in German jurisprudence . Under German law, children, ie persons under 14 years of age, not legally effective in sexual acts consent , as analogous to criminal responsibility is understood in criminal law it can not judge responsible to age-related consequences. Sexual acts on, in front of or with the involvement of children are therefore always to be regarded as criminal sexual abuse of children .


The acceptance of sexual self-determination is an expression of a change in values in modern western societies. In legal terms, this was expressed using the example of male homosexuality in the reform of Paragraph 175 (abolished in 1994 without replacement) in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1969, in which consensual sexual acts between adult men were no longer classified as a victimless crime . The exercise of homosexuality was basically allowed from 1969 to 1994 as long as there was agreement between the adult participants. In 1994 the adult age requirement was also dropped.

In other western industrialized countries, too, the case law has developed similarly since the Enlightenment, although in some regions of the world restrictive laws were only introduced by the European colonial powers.

The death penalty for homosexual acts by men occurs almost exclusively in Islamic states (see also laws on homosexuality ) . Executions of homosexual men still take place in Iran , Saudi Arabia , Sudan and Yemen today . In Mauritania there is still the theoretical possibility of the death penalty.

Various lifestyle policy initiatives , such as the Lambda Legal Committee in Austria and the Beyond Marriage platform in the USA , advocate expanding the state protection of partnerships and unions, for example for people with a homosexual orientation .


There is a special assessment of incestuous relationships, which are punished in Germany and some other states, but not in other states in Europe and some states in the USA . In April 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Section 173 StGB, which applies in Germany , is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights .

Sexual self-determination worldwide

A lack of sexual self-determination by parts or groups of a society is always an expression of insufficient social education . In the majority of national or regional societies, men dominate social conditions, particularly sexuality. In the majority of societies, archaic traditions determine the problematic situation of sexual self-determination for women or for economically dependent people in general. An improvement in the situation of women or other economically dependent people can only be achieved through adequate social education of all members of societies, including men, apart from ritual or religious behavior patterns and, in particular, adequate vocational training, especially women, regardless of gender .

In some cultures, especially in North Africa, female genital mutilation represents a profound turning point in sexual life. Even with circumcision practiced in some cultures without medical indication, important sexual functions are lost. Genital mutilation can therefore be understood as an interference with sexual self-determination.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

In the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union , Article 21 (non-discrimination) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Since the Charter only entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon on December 1, 2009, the scope of Article 21 with regard to the effectiveness of the granting of a right to sexual self-determination cannot yet be foreseen.

Wording of Article 21:

  1. Discrimination, in particular because of gender, race, skin color, ethnic or social origin, genetic characteristics, language, religion or worldview, political or other beliefs, membership of a national minority, property, birth , disabilities, age or sexual orientation are prohibited.
  2. Within the scope of the Treaty establishing the European Community and the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the specific provisions of these Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality is prohibited.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Finally: Marital rape is now considered a crime report in DIE ZEIT from May 16, 1997
  2. Are we really that weak? Review of a former home manager, December 2, 2002