Italy’s Updated Criminal Law Says Anime, Hentai, And Comics Are “Child Pornography”

Written by Theo J Ellis

This isn’t the first time we’re gonna hear news like this, and it’s not gonna be the last time either.

Italy and Germany’s child protection and sexuality laws have been updated in 2022, with Italy, in particular, changing their laws slightly differently from Germany in this case.

An example of their changed laws relating to child pornography in Italy (2022):

“In 2022, the Italian legislator introduced a new crime under Article 600-quater paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code, which punishes the mere (intentional) “access to online child-pornographic material”. Before, accessing child pornography had remained unpunished, since the crime of possession (detenzione) of child pornography implied at least the download from the web from a file sharing program or from a messaging app – even if the file is then deleted and even if there is no evidence that the file has been opened. The new legislative intervention intends to fill a gap that results from those who access websites containing child pornography without downloading any of the content.”

So to clarify, before it only went punished for those who are caught with child pornography. But now people can be punished under the law if they’re caught ACCESSING this content, regardless of what happens after the fact.

 

How anime, Hentai, and comics fit into the picture

As pointed out by European lecturer Paolo Caroli:

“The legal definition of pornography does not even require that the content was created for the purpose of inducing sexual arousal, since it is sufficient that it has this function “in the eye of the beholder” (e.g. pictures of naked minors playing normally on the beach).”

This is followed up with:

With a decision heavily criticized by the scholarship, the Italian Court of Cassation extended the concept of child pornography even to comics and hentai anime, the so-called “totally virtual pornography”. According to the Court, the possession of child pornography is a crime of concrete danger (reato di pericolo concreto or konkretes Gefährdungsdelikt) and in the case of comics, the danger is represented by the evocation of real situations in which “children are reduced to mere sexual objects, sex toys with which and on which to perform acts of sexual nature” (Cass. Pen., Section III, 13 January 2017, n. 222659).”

Note: The part mentioned in 2017 is still under development, it’s NOT final.

Surprisingly this decision was criticized, heavily, because they decided to include anime, comics, Hentai, and basically fictional content into the picture. But that’s ultimately what happened and what the law decided was right in Italy.

 

This isn’t the first time anime was treated this way

The last time this was mentioned was during the pandemic when Australian politicians started banning the sale of anime and manga.

One politician also claimed Sword Art Online was “kiddie porn manga”.

Australia’s police force and their law have also deemed anime and manga “child exploitation”. With statements like these this type of news with Italy’s updated laws is par for the course.

It’s uncertain if Germany’s updated criminal laws in 2022 will follow suit, but for now, this is what Italy is going with in particular.

What do you think? Should the ban be specific or broader like the way they’ve done it?

 

Sources:

verfassungsblog

Document (Italy Criminal Law)

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