Pornography is Illegal in Malta

Like divorce and abortion, possession of pornography is illegal in Malta. I learned this through a brief, grisly article in The Malta Times:

The brothers, aged 41 and 43, pleaded not guilty to defiling their relative, holding her against her will and causing her to fear them on and before July this year. They were also charged with the possession of pornographic material and offending public morals. They were denied bail at this stage.

Ruling Out Foul Play

I first read the article because the headline made use of an unusual term: “Brothers charged with defiling niece”. I’ve noticed that Maltese newspapers tread carefully around subjects like sex and suicide.

Another example is this article, “Man killed by single gunshot – autopsy“. The article reports that “police have ruled out foul play”. Huh? A guy gets shot and there’s no foul play. It took me a little while to figure it out.

There’s no mention of it, but this is the apparently meant to imply that the man committed suicide. Malta is the most Catholic country in the world, so I suppose you’d expect that sex and suicide would be fairly taboo.

To return to illegal activities, for some reason the fact that porn is illegal is weirder than divorce or abortion. Abortion is naturally contentious across the globe. Divorce isn’t that strange to me because, when I lived in Dublin, I learned that divorce had only been legalized there 11 years ago. I do recall that they had nudie magazines in the local SPAR, though.

Anyone With a Libido

After all, I come from a continent where the porn industry is a (estimates seem to vary widely) at least a US $5 billion industry, and where pornography is marketed not only to young men, but to women, senior citizens and everybody else with a libido. And I recently happened to visit Budapest, the reputed European capital of the porn industry. It was just a two-hour flight away.

Here’s how the laws on the books read:

For the purpose of sub-article (3) of article 208 of the Criminal Code, an article shall be deemed to be pornographic or obscene if –
(a) its dominant characteristic is the exploitation of, or undue emphasis on, sex, or any one of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence; or
(b) it directly or indirectly advertises or gives information on any article considered to be pornographic or obscene under these Regulations:

Provided that an article shall not be considered to be pornographic or obscene to the extent that it serves the public good on the ground that it is in the interests of science, literature, art or
learning or other objects of general concern.

That’s a pretty broad definition of pornography. I’m surprised that I can buy Stephen King books in the local bookstores.

Ah well, I don’t think I’ll write a letter to the paper about that. I’m better off railing against the shameful hunting of birds into extinction, instead.


  1. Suicides aren’t reported here, in fact I was surprised when a health-care professional told me how high the rate is for Malta. The press probably reported on this because it was previously mentioned in earlier news – and of course “no foul play” could mean it was accidental too (although unlikely, for a shotgun).

  2. Yeah our country is really antiquated when it comes to sexual matters. Mind you, the people are not, it’s the government and the church that prefer to keep it that way. Fortunately things are changing and not too many people listen to what the church has to say all that much but we still have a long way to go. With regards suicide, it is not reported as it is feared that it will encourage others to resort to it.

  3. Is it illegal to watch porno on the Internet or downloading porno web sites. I know for sure that child pornoghfy is illigal. As these images are stored in the hard drive one could find himself in trouble. A repley is welcomed

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