Last edited: March 06, 2006


  • Statute: Article 118
  • Penalty: Repealed
  • Restrictions:

From International Gay and Lesbian Association World Legal Survey

Article 118 of the Estonian Penal Code (inherited from the days of the Soviet Union), which prohibited "anal intercourse between men" was repealed on 21 April 1992 (ILGA Bulletin 3/92 p. 9). However, the age of consent for homosexual male contacts was fixed at 16 years of age whereas it is 14 years of age for heterosexual contacts. (ILGA Admin Office).

From Ahto Pahk

1. Homosexual acts are regulated in Penal Code’s (PC) Art. 118 sec.-s 1 and 2.

2. Homosexual acts can be committed without any legal consequences from beginning of age 16. This age is same for heterosexual and homosexual boys. Females can engage in sexual act starting with age of 14. It includes, of course, lesbians.

3. Punishment for having sexual act with under aged partner is quite severe, so, better to watch! But the governmental surveillance on that matter is extremely weak, so do not pay almost any attention to that matter law enforcement institutions as well. Problems start when there is complaint filed.

4. Punishment depends on the act’s nature. When there is a reason to believe that it has been rape, the punishment is 2-5 years of imprisonment. If the act is committed with under aged person, the punishment is 2-10. Pay attention on the punishment rates- they do not refer to "up to" but have firm limits.

5. Lesbians will not be punished by this Article (§118), they will be punished, if proven, according to the other Article of the PC. Those are: §115; §115- 1; §116; §117. Since homosexual acts are regulated only with the Art. 118, lesbians can be set responsible according to all those articles I mentioned above. Mostly are those meant for heterosexual acts.

6. §115- rape; punishment 2-10 years; §115-1- satisfying sexual passion in unnatural way; punishment up to 6 years;

§116- sexual act with the female person that is under 14 years of age; punishment arrest (up to 3 months) or up to 4 years imprisonment;

§117- sexual indecency towards to person under 16 years of age; punishment up to 4 years.

Legal advice is very much available. Just go to the address and you’ll find it there! For those that do not speak Estonian, here’s the overview:

AIDS Support Centre
Dr.Mr. Jüri Kalikov
Kopli St. 32
Phone: +372 6413 165

AIDS Prevention Centre
Dr.Mrs. Nelli Kalikova
Narva Road 48
Phone: +372 6273 505

Legal Advice (also in English)
Mr. Silvar Laanemäe
Endla St. 6
GSM +372 5023 584

Dear Sirs,

I received a letter from the Estonian Embassy in Germany. It appears to be that they were asked to provide information about the state of homosexuals in the Republic of Estonia. One of the diplomats contacted me based on the article I wrote earlier for your web site. Estonian laws have gone through a great enhancement. And therefore I’d like to give a brand new overlook of present situation.

On the 1st September this year (2002) Estonian legislative body (Riigikogu) enforced brand new penal law. It has changed a lot.

Firstly, there are no articles referring to gayety. It means, no article deals with gays directly. When the old Penal Code had article no 118 then the new one deals just with the rape, gross indecency and some other crimes. It is still punishable to engage in sexual intercourse with a minor (a male or female under 14 years of age), to rape a female or male (males could not have been raped in the meaning of a law before, now it has been changed as well). The law is still brand new and legal practice is almost zero. Therefore I cannot give more detailed information. When the significant law cases are discussed, I may provide feedback and updates.

One thing that should be remembered is that the old Criminal Code that I talked about before, is still in force. But only to these crimes committed before the 1st September 2002. Crimes committed after that date are dealt according to the Penal Law.

The articles that are most important are situated in the law like this:
1)         9th Chapter;
2)         7th Subchapter;
3)         Articles § 141- § 147.

If anyone is interested, one could easily contact for further assistance. They probably need you to have the questions in Estonian, or you may ask about these matters from any Estonian Embassy throughout the world.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them.


Ahto Pahk


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