European Union law does not prevent EU member states from banning games that simulate homocide, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has ruled.

The Court ruled that a ban on games that simulate homicide or trivialise violence did not violate the freedom to provide services or the free movement of goods guaranteed under EU law.

The decision arose from a case referred to the European Court by the Federal Administrative Court in Germany. In 1994, police in Bonn had prohibited a company, Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH, from operating amusement known as “Laserdrome” in which players shoot at each other with laser targeting devices shaped like submachine guns.

The Bonn authorities had argued that the game violated the principle of human dignity enshrined in the German constitution.

While agreeing that the ban affected the arcade operator’s freedom to provide services, the Court accepted that the German authorities had a legitimate interest in pursuing a public policy intended to protect human dignity that justified the ban.

Because the ban extended only to laser games in which the object is to fire on human targets, the Court held that the ban was proportional to the public interest being served.
Omega had purchased the laser equipment from British company, and argued that the ban on its use amounted to a restriction of the free movement of goods within the EU. But the Court held that the fact that no similar restrictions existed in the United Kingdom was not relevant to the case.

The case is Omega Spielhallen- und Automatenaufstellungs-GmbH v. Oberbürgermeisterin der Bundesstadt Bonn, C-36/02.