Italy's highest court has ruled it is a crime to tell a man he has "no balls".
Credit: AFP/getty

Apparently Italians do not live by the idea that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," as the Italian court just ruled that insulting a man by telling him he has "no balls" is now a crime. 

The court ruled that such a slur is a crime as it hurts male pride. 

The ruling comes from a case that was brought to the supreme court by a lawyer named only as Vittorio against his cousin Alberto, who is a justice of the peace, AFP reported. Alberto reportedly uttered the phrase during a heated courtroom exchange in the southern Italian city of Potenza.

A male judge of Italy's highest court, Maurizio Fumo, said in his ruling, “Apart from the vulgarity of the term used, the expression definitely also has an injurious quality. It refers not only to the target’s lack of virility but also to his weakness of character, lack of determination, competence and coherence — virtues that, rightly or wrongly, are still identified as pertaining to the male gender.”

Beyond insulting his manhood, the court found that because the insult was uttered at the workplace with third parties present it could be seen as damaging Vittorio's reputation, the Herald Sun reported. 

The Herald Sun noted that Vittorio's lawyer argued that the expression implied that Vittorio was "worth less than other men because he did not have the attributes".

According to, the court did not rule if there was an expression that would be equally offensive to women. 

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