From the Guardian 27.02.08:
In a landmark judgement with far-reaching social implications, Italy's highest appeals court has ruled it is a criminal offence for Italian men to touch their genitals in public.
..[t]he ban did not just apply to brazen crotch-scratching, but also to what might be termed superstitious pre-emption. Anyone who has seen a hearse go past in Italy, or been part of a discussion in which some terrible illness or disaster is mentioned, will know it is traditional for men to ward off bad luck with a quick grab at what are delicately called their "attributi".
The court was ruling on the appeal of an unnamed 42-year-old workman from Como near Milan. In May 2006, he was convicted of indecent behaviour for "ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing". His lawyer said it was merely a "compulsive, involuntarily movement, probably to adjust his overalls".
The workman was ordered to pay a €200 fine and €1000 costs.
Oh Boy. I can't help but feel slightly uneasy over this decision. I don't know the full case facts, admittedly, in particular exactly how ostentatious his gential touching was meant to be. But what if he really WAS just adjusting his overalls? Or trying to get his car keys out of his trouser pocket? Anyone who's ever donned on a pair of overalls will vouch for the fact that have two layers on is never easy and adjustment is sometimes called for. But the case does raise a good question: when does an innocent scratch, surreptitiously done become a indecent, criminal touching?