Penalties for sexual harassment might be introduced in Latvia

On Thursday, May 23, the Saeima referred to the committees amendments prepared by "Progressives" to the Law on Administrative Penalties, which provide for a fine of up to 700 euros for sexual harassment.

The draft law defines sexual harassment as unwanted conduct of any kind, whether verbal, non-verbal, digital or physical, of a sexual nature directed against another person, which has the purpose or effect of violating the dignity or privacy of a person, in particular, if it creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Andrejs Judins (JV), chairman of the Saeima Legal Affairs Committee, said on social media that there should be a liability, but that the proposal should be improved to ensure that "simple displays of affection" do not also become an offense. According to Judins, there is a lack of clarity on the scope of the definition. The head of the committee responsible believes that liability can be envisaged in cases where sexual harassment continues after an explicit call to stop it.

The issue became topical after Latvian Television reported on alleged sexual harassment of female students by lecturers at the Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music (JVLMA).

The State Police has opened criminal proceedings in connection with the information about the alleged harassment of female students by JVLMA lecturers. The criminal proceedings have been initiated under the section of the Criminal Law on offenses against morality and sexual integrity.

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