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I was always led to believe that public masturbation only covers places where there isn't an expectation of privacy that people work and hang around (i.e. parks, supermarkets, hospital) so it would be illegal for a person to engage in sexual activity here.

But what if an employee at a store or office masturbates in the public bathrooms and someone comes in, would that be considered public indecency? Would it make a difference if they left bodily fluids on the toilet/floor?

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    Laws vary around the world, which jurisdiction (country, province, state etc) does this relate to?
    – Rick
    Jul 12 at 12:46
  • 🤢 why would you do that?
    – MWB
    Jul 12 at 23:52
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It’s possible that this could amount to Offensive Conduct within the meaning of s4 of the Summary Offences Act 1988.

A person must not conduct himself or herself in an offensive manner in or near, or within view or hearing from, a public place or a school.

A bathroom that is open to the public would qualify such as one at a park or a shopping centre. It’s not clear that a bathroom solely for the use of employees is a “public place”.

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  • The question presumes that the person has locked the door and is not visible to anyone. How would the law you cited deem masturbation any more "offensive" than urination or defecation?
    – Greendrake
    Jul 12 at 13:10
  • @Greendrake Are they doing this silently? There are issues besides being seen or not.
    – Joe W
    Jul 12 at 13:22
  • @JoeW They may do it silently. For that's sake, people often are not silent at all when urinating or defecating.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 12 at 13:27
  • @Greendrake I don't think anyone is saying people don't make noises in the bathroom but lets be real here in order for this question to even matter it means someone has to have been caught doing it. That means either they where seen, heard or left evidence behind.
    – Joe W
    Jul 12 at 13:31
  • @JoeW For someone to be "caught", the act needs to be offensive in the first place. Whether masturbation is offensive is what is being argued.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 12 at 13:43
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  • What if an employee at a store or office masturbates in the public bathrooms?

Sexual activity in a public lavatory is an offence contrary to s.71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003:

(1) A person commits an offence if -

(a) he is in a lavatory to which the public or a section of the public has or is permitted to have access, whether on payment or otherwise,

(b) he intentionally engages in an activity, and,

(c) the activity is sexual.

(2) For the purposes of this section, an activity is sexual if a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider it to be sexual.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both.

  • Would it make a difference if they left bodily fluids on the toilet/floor?

No. There is no requirement to produce bodily fluids for this offence to be committed.

  • Would that be considered public indecency?

No, unless there is an intent to cause "alarm or distress" as required by s.66 of the 2003 Act:

(1) A person commits an offence if—

(a) he intentionally exposes his genitals, and

(b) he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress.

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  • What's your source regarding that a reasonable person would consider masturbation sexual activity? I would argue that sexual activity must involve two or more persons.
    – Greendrake
    Jul 12 at 13:13
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    @Greendrake What is your source that it requires two or more persons?
    – Joe W
    Jul 12 at 13:23
  • @JoeW Definition of "sexual": "relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals".
    – Greendrake
    Jul 12 at 13:25
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    @Greendrake I would argue that masturbation is entirely a sexual act.
    – Joe W
    Jul 12 at 13:28
  • @Greendrake The ultimate source will be the Magistrate having due regard to the s.71 points-to-prove and the definition of sexual - neither of which require (in the OP's scenario) more than one person to commit this offence
    – Rick
    Jul 12 at 13:35

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