PORTUGAL WILL have to alter its criminal legislation in order to protect children, bringing the age of sexual consent up to the age of 18.
The alteration is dictated by the EC Directive from 2003 concerning sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and Portugal must introduce the new legislation by the closing date of January next year.
The alterations will be introduced under the paragraph of law that concerns crimes of sex with minors without consent, which, at the moment, only seeks to protect those under 16 years of age.
The Penal Code currently punishes sexual crimes committed against under 14s (artigo 172.º – sexual abuse of children) and crimes of sex with adolescents between the ages of 14 and 16 (artigo 174.º – sexual acts with adolescents). But, under the new law, adolescents up to the age of 18 will also be protected.
The alteration is being introduced with a view to reinforce the protection of victims of sexual crime, but, at the same time, obliges caution in what concerns sexual relationships between, for example, a girl of 17 and her boyfriend of 20, in order to avoid the male involved being prosecuted.
Among other alterations to the Penal Code is the elimination of an article that has already been considered discriminatory by the Constitutional Court – article 175º that punishes homosexual acts with adolescents.