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Public peeing OK if no one is offended: Swedish court

The Local · 27 Sep 2010, 11:37

Published: 27 Sep 2010 11:37 GMT+02:00

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Charges were originally filed against the 45-year-old resident of Nacka, a suburb of Stockholm, following a late-night emergency back in March of this year, the Metro newspaper reports.

While waiting for a bus, the 45-year-old realized he wouldn’t be able to hold it in any longer and went behind a bus shelter to relieve himself, taking care to keep his back toward the sidewalk.

The man was by no means alone in failing to obey Sweden’s statues against public urination. In 2009, 5,000 Swedes were slapped with a fine of 800 kronor ($120) for peeing in public, Metro reports.

Those who refuse to accept the fine, like the 45-year-old, can then contest their case in court against charges of offensive behaviour.

And if the 45-year-old’s case is any guide, more full-bladdered Swedes may find it worth their while to take their public urination fines to court.

In throwing out the charges against the 45-year-old, the Nacka District Court cited a previous appeals court ruling in which a man was acquitted because he didn’t intend to offend anyone when he unzipped his trousers.

“There is a ruling with legal force where a man was acquitted for the same reason after having peed behind a container. The court of appeal found then, just as we have, that the intent to offend or offensiveness in and of itself, was lacking,” Annika Johansson, a judge with the district court in Nacka, told Metro.

Specifically, the court found that the 45-year-old had taken sufficient measures to not offend or upset any passersby.

Story continues below…

But prosecutor Silvia Ingolfsdottir still may appeal the Nacka ruling, claiming that intent or the presence of an offended witness shouldn’t matter in adjudicating a case of public urination.

In the mean time, Swedes who can’t make it to the toilet would be well served to at least do their best to find a secluded place to relieve themselves, if they want to have a have a chance at winning their case in court.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:21 September 27, 2010 by Audrian
I find the fining of 5000 people with of 800 Sek, at the rate of 0.16 Sek per person, in 2009, waste of tax payers money. It is lot cheaper than the public toilets which charge 5 or 10 Sek.

What went to the public purse as a fine would not have covered the cost of paper work, administration and cleaning up the mess that was left behind.
12:45 September 27, 2010 by unt9
Nice to hear something positive today.
12:50 September 27, 2010 by bruin-ou
Audrian, I think they meant 5000 people got a fine of SEK800 each. Not SEK800 for all 5000.
13:04 September 27, 2010 by Audrian
Thank you bruin-ou; you made sense! On the other hand, one should not underestimate the ability of bureaucracies to be ridiculous.
13:11 September 27, 2010 by underskyofsweden
I think some thing here is going wrong! There should be enough or more public toilets around the city to not facing with its downsides afterward! If you have no coin or if you can't find any McDonalds, what could be your choice?! Come on, We have to punish goverment instead of citizens!
13:21 September 27, 2010 by engagebrain
Why is it always men urinating in public, never women ?

If I write p..s...ng my post get rejected as offensive - weird.
13:33 September 27, 2010 by RememberAisha
"Why is it always men urinating in public, never women ?"

13:55 September 27, 2010 by calebian22
Leave it to Marko to make this about muslims. How dare the Local report something that has nothing to do with the "oppression" of his religion?!
14:03 September 27, 2010 by cogito
Ewwww. Public urination=barbaric

Why are there no free public facilities, like in other countries.

Stores like NK, Åhlens charge customers who may have spent several thousand kronor shopping to use the store's loo? Greed?
14:19 September 27, 2010 by Marko2010S

Do you see the freedom of speech into action by your own eyes?

... Just wondering why so...
14:30 September 27, 2010 by rybo1
I've been here for more than 10 years and finding a freely available public toilet is near impossible. it's a sad situation and I very much doubt it will change.
14:34 September 27, 2010 by calebian22
Of course I realize that you can spout off as you wish, Marko. Just as long as you realize that it makes you an ubertool when your comment is completely irrelevant.
14:56 September 27, 2010 by Keith #5083
Maybe there are some benefits to Middle Eastern style full length clothing/nightshirts. I mean, if you are inside your own tent............you kinda got your own tentaloo, huh?
15:03 September 27, 2010 by Marko2010S

All my comments are completely relevant and make perfect sense, It is just your problem putz (And maybe some others) for not being able to reply to them nor understanding them.

Well, according to my principles, mindless-goons shouldn't be blamed.
15:46 September 27, 2010 by calebian22
I understand them just fine. You just apparently live in you own little world where everything must be tied to Islam. Thanks for the laugh Marko. However, Keith's comment is much funnier. Clever and relevant.
16:14 September 27, 2010 by kofigermain
I think this is an interesting case in law, but does a court have enough resources to go into intent of offence for every case. This sets not only as a principle to urinate, but runs through a lot of other legal issues. I think that the court should look into it because the law can be made about acts of people but not the intent of a person to act
16:30 September 27, 2010 by Liquidmonkey
how about sweden provide FREE public toilets for gods sake!

we all pay taxes and taking a pi$$ uptown is something that sometimes can't be avoided, so give me some FREE toilets instead of charging 5 or 10 krs.
17:05 September 27, 2010 by Borilla
The end of civilization as we know it.

By the way, women also offend.

What's next? I guess the old saying applies now: "You can't fight city hall but you can crap on the steps."
18:42 September 27, 2010 by dobermann
Why is it always men urinating in public, never women ?

If I write p..s...ng my post get rejected as offensive - weird.

You must be joking... I have never saw in any country so many women urinating in public..I have even saw a young women urinating in front of the metro entrance at sergels torg..It wasn't so late ant there were a lot of people on the street..
19:07 September 27, 2010 by asee
Nobody like to urinate in public place... until it become so hard to stop.... but women in all over the world have to show extra patience..... salute to women...
20:06 September 27, 2010 by Keith #5083

....... gee, thx..... :)

May I respectfully suggest that in the event of an absolute emergency, a tree or bush is found for the purpose. I see it is becoming quite a practice in public facilities to utilise urine for fertilisation purposes, hence the new style of toilet.

I wonder if that's a valid argument in law - performing a civic duty of care to public bushes and trees?

20:42 September 27, 2010 by Soft Boiled
I live quite close to an underpass. The entrance is used regularly by the local alcoholics who get tanked up on cans of cheap beer and sit around on the shopping centre benches until the call of nature "forces" them to use the underpass to relieve themselves. Now the police and the local "mall enforcement" don´t seem to be be that bothered...but for any normal healthy person with a nose that works, the smell from the open urinal is absolutely overpowering - I don´t believe you should punish people for having a pee but it shouldn´t be hard to find a tree to pee behind in Sweden which incidentally is 51% forest?
21:19 September 27, 2010 by ISayWhatPeopleThink
Pay toilets are just another case of Swedes concentrating on something menial and not seeing the full picture. I just came back from a week-long trip to Stockholm yesterday...and I noticed a few things:

On Saturday I visited an Åhlens near the center of town, and had a huge handful of baby clothes ready for purchase. Before I was done browsing, my 10 year old informed me he needed to go to the bathroom right away. Figuring "surely such a large department store will have some facilities to use" I went to the counter to ask for the bathroom. I was informed there were NO BATHROOMS in the store, and was advised to go across the street near the Metro station to find a pay toilet.

I wasn't done shopping, but my child wasn't about to wait, so I had to put everything back and leave the store to find him a toilet. After he was done I said "screw it" as I wasn't about to go back in and hunt down what I had just put up to purchase those items (worth 1500+ kr.). So there ya go, swedes...if it isn't obvious enough lemme break it down for you:

In the real world, as a business - you want to KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS IN THE STORE. You don't want them to leave before buying whatever it is you have on offer. Sometimes, (especially if you are a large store) people will spend a good amount of time shopping and they just may have to attend their human needs. In that case, you provide it. Because again YOU WANT TO KEEP THEM IN THE STORE. By forcing them to go elsewhere you LOSE REVENUE. And over what? Having a toilet? Stupid Swedes don't understand that the cost of upkeep and cleaning of a bathroom stall is a drop in the bucket compared to lost profits from forcing potential buyers out the door. You don't even have to be an economist or hold a business degree to understand how that works.

On a side note, at one of the Metro stations my baby needed a diaper change. I went to the information desk to ask where the bathroom was located, and I was informed that the station had no bathroom at all. Pointing at the baby carriage I said:

"Ahh, so *that* explains why the elevator for the baby carriages to get down here reeks of urine."

The station attendant smiled and said "Yup!"
00:10 September 28, 2010 by soultraveler3
Peeing in public is absoutely disgusting. Swedes can be really bad about it, way more than in any other country I've been in. This is on top of the huge amount of spit, snus, cigarette butts and beer cans and bottles EVERYWHERE.

Softboiled is right, almost every underpass, alley, park stinks like portable toliet and is filled with beer cans. There is no reason for it, bars and restraunts have free toilets for their customers. It's usually people leaving those places that are peeing everywhere, not the people going shopping.

I do agree that the whole "have to pay to use a public toilet" thing here is so stupid. It's a pain in the @ss to have to carry 5 and 10 kronors around with you all the time and to have to walk for 20 minutes to find a freaking toilet. The worst part is that 90% of the time the pay toilets are just as nasty as the rare free one that you find.

Sorry, but it's typical swedish style. Something obiviously isn't working as intended but it's "the swedish way" of doing it so it's not going to change. /sigh
03:31 September 28, 2010 by Homesoul
Why are some Swedish men are acting like the French? It is offensive and crude. I had seen it in Paris last year. Are their bladders the size of peanuts?
06:06 September 28, 2010 by burlison
Some of the posters here make a great point: 5-10K to use a bathroom anywhere. so every train station elevator reeks to high heaven.
10:11 September 28, 2010 by othrex
Some time ago, Central Station toilets were free.

Some time later, It was 10 Sek.

Now it's 20 Sek.

I mean, do we need to write down somewhere in the Human Rights Chart that peeing is a human right as well ?
11:14 September 28, 2010 by marianne667
From now on I will avoid shopping at åhlens. I also am upset about NK charging their customers for toilette visits. You should be able to use the place for free if you can produce a sales slip!!!!!
12:10 September 28, 2010 by Micaela
Some one told me that Sweden does not have many public toilets and it is true. The very idea of people relieving themselves in public places and not in a toilet is so disgusting in terms of manners and hygiene. People should most certainly be fined for such disgusting behaviour. I would be offended just knowing that someone was doing that even if I could not see anything. Yuck!
13:15 September 28, 2010 by americanska
@Isaywhatpeoplething - you name says it all!

I really don't understand the concept of not having a toilet for your customers to use.......
15:51 September 28, 2010 by cogito

Me too. I boycott NK now because no matter how much I spend, they charge me to use the toilets.

No more Åhlens either.
02:46 September 29, 2010 by Tdye
here in amercia you would be arested for indencent exposure fined up to 1,000 USD and most likley put on probation for a year...I cant believe that a country like sweden has this kinda problem maybe insted nf blameing the government maybe home traning should be taught a bit better
12:52 September 29, 2010 by SarahRF
It's not a matter of potty training, Tdye.

If you were to pay a quarter for every time you went to the bathroom in a mall or at a restaurant like Applebee's or McDonald's, you can bet every dollar you have the American people wouldn't stand for it. Here in Sweden we have to keep loose coins in pockets and bags just to be able to use the bathroom at a McDonald's where we've just had a meal. It's ridiculous. The toilets you pay to use are often in worse condition than the free ones too. Not to mention that finding a public toilet is a mission in itself. Places like underpasses and subway elevators would smell a lot better if more toilets were available for use, and for free!
07:49 October 6, 2010 by Tdye
OrSpell Check Your Text

Language: English (change)

we used to have pay toilet..but for what ever reason it went away

my thing is.. if you are planning a trip out on the town or shopping or what have you.. unless you have a medical condition that requires you to go to the bathroom that much... whats te big deal about carrying a few coins in your pocket...we have free bathrooms that are nasty but when you go to go you got to go know what i mean?

most Americans carry change in their pockets or bags everyday...i don't know if it is a Swedish thing or what but i take it that yall dont like to carry change in yours...personally i would rather pee in a nasty bathroom than do it on a street

I just think it would be easier to just pay the ore or what ever is the equivalent of a quarter there..than to pee yourself...I know your country is a socialist country (awesome!)...but im sure that if Your people would start a petition of some sort..or maybe boycott the places with the pay bathrooms or even send it in to parliament that things would change

But let me say that I Because I am an American.. I really dont kow yaou laws there..and i didnt post that comment to offend any Swedes..I love your country more than i love mine and i wish i was there right now lol
10:38 October 6, 2010 by rafa1981
Be offended for seeing someone peeing is a bit childish, you can be angry because they are fouling and making smell ball a place, that' s logical, but offended? The individual that is offended for seeing a shepherd peeing in the middle of the field is having a psychological problem.
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