THE HAGUE (AFP) - Dutch paedophile group Martijn, which argues for society's acceptance of consensual sex between children and adults, cannot be banned, an appeals court said on Tuesday, overturning a 2012 ruling.
"According to the court of appeal, the work of the association is contradictory to public order but there is no threat of disrupting society," the Arnhem-Leeuwarden court in the north of the country said.
The decision came after the head of the association, Martijn Uittenbogaard, appealed a June ruling by a court in nearby Assen banning the group, which has around 60 members.
Founded in 1982, the association lobbies for the acceptance of paedophilia but says it is fiercely opposed to any form of sexual abuse.
The appeals court ruled that the fact that some members had previous convictions for sexual abuse was not the association's responsibility and it had never committed a criminal act.
Words and images on the association's website are legal and do not advise people to have sex with children, the court said.
Nevertheless, the association is against some principles of Dutch law as it "makes banal the dangers of sexual contact with young children, speaks well of such contact, even glorifies it", the court said.
But this would not lead to a "disruption" of society, a required condition for an association to be banned, as society is "sufficiently capable of defending itself against undesirable utterances or reprehensible (but not punishable) behaviour", it said.
Following the ruling, the head of the association tweeted: "Luckily there are still some wise judges." A court in Leeuwarden in 2011 declined to pursue criminal proceedings against the association, despite the malaise the group caused even in the liberal-minded Netherlands.
The group's former head Ad van den Berg was sentenced to three years in jail in 2011 for possession of child pornography.