London, Mar 2 (UNI) A top Italian court has ruled that scratching the crotch-- considered an equivalent to crossing the fingers in the country-- in public is a criminal offence.
Superstitious Italian males are known to ward off ill luck with a ''quick grab''.
The court of cassation suggested that those seeking luck should do it in the privacy of their homes.
''Such actions risked generating 'awkwardness, disgust and disappoval' in the average man,'' the court said.
The judgment came on the appeal of an unnamed 42-year-old workman who was convicted of indecent behaviour by ''ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing'', the Guardian reported.
However, his lawyer said it was just a ''compulsive, involuntarily movement, probably to adjust his overalls''.
The workman was ordered to pay 200 euros in fine and 1,000 euros in costs.
It is a common practice for Italian men to touch their genitals whenever some terrible thing is mentioned as they believe it wards off ill luck.
The third penal division of the Rome court observed: ''Public genital-patting has to be regarded as contrary to public decency, a concept including that nexus of socio-ethical rules requiring everyone to abstain from conduct potentially offensive to collectively held feelings of decorum.'' UNI XC YA SZ PM0912