Archive for the ‘Dangerous Pictures Act’ Category

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sex and censorship logo This week, the following letter was sent to a number of MPs and Lords, to raise concerns over the planned rape porn legislation.This was sent on behalf of Sex & Censorship and an alliance of other sexual freedom campaigns: Backlash , Consenting Adult Action Network , Campaign Against Censorship  and the Sexual Freedom Coalition .

We write to express grave concern regarding S16 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which will extend the existing ban on extreme pornography (S63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act). This section is poorly defined. It will have the unintended consequence of criminalising the possession of material that depicts consensual sex, bondage and power-play fantasies common to millions.

Pornography of all kinds has become much more accessible since the Internet has become available to the general public. In that time, the prevalence of sexual abuse has not increased in the United Kingdom and may have decreased. It is simplistic & mistaken to suggest that pornography is a cause of violence against women. Correlation is not causation. Serious academic studies of pornography and sexual violence (1) show that increased availability of pornography is, in fact, associated with less violence and abuse.

Fictional and consensual portrayals of submission and domination are a common and popular sexual fantasy, as recently illustrated by the Fifty Shades of Grey novels. Indeed one of the largest surveys ever undertaken in Britain (2) indicated that nearly a third of us have fantasies about elements of forced sex, with approximately 2.2 million men and women having violent sexual fantasies. With around 90% of men and 60% of women viewing pornography, and with so many enjoying fantasies of this nature, the danger is that this poorly defined legislation will have a huge impact.

The Bill’s Impact Assessment suggests that the number of cases cannot be predicted. When extreme material was criminalised (by S63(7) CJIA 2008) government ministers predicted there would only be 30 cases a year, but the reality was very different. In the last year for which the MoJ has provided data (2012/13), there were 1,348 prosecutions. Given that the number of people who enjoy material that features sexual bondage and power-play is so high, we fear government will create thousands of new sex offenders, most of whom will be entirely harmless law-abiding citizens.

There is also a problem with government guidance for the public and prosecutors. Just prior to the enactment of S63(7) CJIA 2008, in response to reservations, the House of Lords was promised that meaningful guidance would be issued to explain those categories that were difficult to define. This never happened. In fact prosecutors were so unsure of the meaning of the law that there have been some trials of material which we are confident Parliament never intended. For example, the prosecution of barrister Simon Walsh, a former aide to Boris Johnson, whose legal practice had included investigating corruption within British police forces. His career in public life was ruined by a prosecution. It was rejected by a jury after 90 minutes deliberation. Prosecutors failed to prove that images depicting consensual sex acts between him and two other gay men were extreme .

The prosecution also threatened the reputation of the Crown Prosecution Service as an impartial public servant by showing that gay men risked having their lives destroyed in court over intimate acts which were consensual, safe and commonly practiced within the LGBT community. Bad laws do not harm only the individuals prosecuted; they also harm the institutions tasked with enforcing them, and increase even further the costs of the justice system to the taxpayer. This proposed law will also traumatise large numbers of women and men by having their private sexual fantasies examined and shamed in public.

It is therefore vital that S16 of this Bill be refined to limit the scope of the ban to images that are produced through real harm or lack of consent. Fantasy portrayals of forced/power-play sex are too commonly enjoyed to be reasonably subject to prohibition.

We appeal to you to refine this legislation. We also ask to be permitted to put detailed evidence to Parliament at the committee stages. Finally, we ask if you would be willing to host an event in Parliament, at which representatives could speak, so that members of both Houses can better understand what is at stake.


1. Pornography, Public Acceptance and Sex Related Crime: A Review: 2009: Milton Diamond 2. British Sexual Fantasy Research Project: 2007. ISBN 978-0-713-99940-2

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House of Commons logoThe Criminal Justice and Courts Bill has been published and includes a section extending the definition of extreme porn to include depictions of non-consensual sex.S63 CJIA 2008 will be extended to include rape material, but the definition looks to be so wide that it might include the majority of bondage related material.

This is the crucial bit: –

Clause 16 will extend CJIA 2008 S 63 (7) legislation by inserting provisions which include: –

16(2)C: after subsection (7) insert—

(7A): An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, either of the following: –

(a). an act which involves the non-consensual penetration of a person’s vagina, anus or mouth by another with the other person’s penis, or

(b). an act which involves the non-consensual sexual penetration of a person’s vagina or anus by another with a part of the other person’s body or anything else, and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that the persons were real.

(7B): For the purposes of subsection (7A): –

(a): penetration is a continuing act from entry to withdrawal;

(b): vagina includes vulva.

16 (3): In section 66 (defence: participation in consensual acts): – a. before subsection (1) insert—

(A1): Subsection (A2) applies where in England and Wales: –

(a): 5a person (D) is charged with an offence under section 63, and

(b): the offence relates to an image that portrays an act or acts within subsection (7)(a) to (c) or (7A) of that section (but does not portray an act within subsection (7)(d) of 10that section).

(A2): It is a defence for D to prove—

(a): that D directly participated in the act or any of the acts portrayed, and

(b): that the act or acts did not involve the infliction of any non-consensual harm on any person, and

(c): if the image portrays an act within section 63(7)(c), that what is portrayed as a human corpse was not in fact a corpse, and

(d): if the image portrays an act within section 63(7A), that what is portrayed as non-consensual penetration was in fact consensual.

My reading of this is that it is for the defence to prove that that any act was consensual. If it looks non-consensual (and a large proportion of bondage material will be interpreted that way) then the person found to be in possession of such material will have to prove that the act was in fact consensual.

The Impact Assessment

There is an impact assessment which provides more information, but some of it is misleading (for example 1. the justification is said to be the desire to reduce violence against women and 2. an inference might be drawn from the 1 case that is believed to have been prosecuted in Scotland). The reality is that in England thousands of people have been caught out by S63(7) and thousands more will now fall foul of the new law.

Page 7 of the IA suggests that there will be some protection but I can’t see any: –

28. There are minor risks that anti-censorship groups could see this step as an infringement on private consensual sexual activities, for example staging consensual acted rape scenarios. However, we intend to provide a limited defence to address some of these concerns. Alongside this the measure is likely to be well received across Parliament and a range of women’s rights groups in particular.

29. We also intend to make available for the purposes of the images covered in the extended offence, the existing defence for participants possessing images of themselves, provided that no harm was caused to any participant, or if harm were caused, it was harm which was and could be lawfully consented to.

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Houses of ParliamentPROTEST Consensual Non-Consent Rape Porn Ban!
16th December 2013, 1pm to 6pm
Outside of the Houses of Parliament, London

The organisers write:

David Cameron’s most recent attempt at banning porn altogether for the UK public is set to take effect in January 2014. However, this pornography ban will not take the form of Internet Service Providers just censoring those sites (Internet filters, BBC, 2013) but will come with a maximum THREE YEAR PRISON SENTENCE to anybody caught in possession of or watching porn depicting simulated consensual non-consent sex.

David Cameron has been able to gain some support for this ban by those who misunderstand the culture by calling it Rape porn , though this label is misleading. Consensual non-consent porn is NEVER rape, nor does it glorify or endorse rape. It is true that there are some places on the internet where one may find disgusting videos of women actually being raped, but these are not to be confused and branded the same. No credible porn companies will provide real rape pornography, and the vast majority of these videos begin with the actress giving her consent to what will happen to her and letting viewers know that there is a safe word she will use if she wants the whole thing to stop immediately.

Consensual non-consent, dominance/submission and the use of safe words are common practice for those interested in BDSM and it is a popular fetish, with 62 percent of women saying that they had a fantasy where they were having sex against their will (Women’s rape fantasies, Psychology Today, 2010). So, if we like to have this sort of sex in the privacy of our own homes, why should it be made illegal to watch the same things in pornography when nobody is being seriously taken against their will?

Therefore, in opposition to this new legislation I hereby call for a peaceful protest outside of the houses of parliament, London. During the protest, you are invited to freely wear clothes you feel may express your opinions clearly (within the boundaries of the law, e.g. no nudity), though this is not encouraged. Bring message banners, bring props (e.g. whips), bring megaphones, bring refreshments, bring your own information leaflets/booklets to pass to the public, and help us generally spread awareness of this issue and make sure that no politician, David Cameron or otherwise, gets any more say on our personal freedom than they already have.

Don’t allow this law to pass. You or somebody close to you could be facing prison time over a fantasy.

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backlash logo Backlash’s Moral Panic Film Club
7th February 2014 from 7pm
Hackney Attic, 270 Mare Street, London, E8 1HE

Backlash writes:

Join us in an evening of disgust and moral panic to raise funds to support Backlash UK’s academic, legal and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression.

On Friday February 7th, 2014, we are holding a night of previously banned or heavily edited films, talks, open discussion and music. All money raised will go the increasing amount of court cases that Backlash has been asked to assist with.

The evening will consist of film, talks and round table discussions by specialists including our solicitors, external campaigners and academics, then music and drinks until closing time!

Why not suggest some films you would like to see:

 Banned Video Nasties
Banned Cinema Films
Banned Videos
Banned Self Censored

Why a fundraiser? As Backlash becomes better known, more people are turning to our solicitors for help. Court cases are costly but important affairs, because they ensure that our defendants get a fair trial by being represented by specialist lawyers who defend adult’s freedom of sexual expression; their right to participate in all consensual sexual activities and to watch, read and create any fictional interpretation of such in any media.

The current moral panic has resulted in Backlash’ solicitors’ expertise being increasingly on demand to advise and often, represent, people charged with crimes that go from the possession of extreme images of consenting adults, to OPA charges of creators of artistic content and sexual discrimination at employment tribunals.

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David CameronNew Government plans would mean that anybody found with pornography depicting rape, albeit verifiably simulated, could be jailed for up to three years.The new rules will be implemented in January and should bring England and Wales in line with the law in Scotland, where the offence carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

Prime Minister David Cameron, said the new plans will target websites showing images and videos of rape, whether the websites claim that the act is simulated or not.

It is not yet clear how the law will be amended, and how ‘realistic’ the rape depiction has to be. No doubt it will be left vague and more innocent people will get caught up prosecutions/persecutions usually kicked off by something else leading computer seizures and inspections.

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David CameronDaily Mail spokesman David Cameron is set to announce that the Dangerous Pictures Act will be extended to cover the glorified depiction of rape and other serious sexual offences.

In a speech on Monday, David Cameron will also laud agreements between the Government and internet firms to restrict access to pornography online to those opting to see certain sites and to introduce new censorship requirement for public Wi-Fi connections.

The Government hopes that such actions will convince Daily Mail readers that it is taking action.

Internet firms have also called for tougher legal safeguards on pornography if ministers want to police the web, as the companies do not believe they should be held responsible for deciding what content should be restricted.

The Telegraph has obtained a letter to campaign organisation Rape Crisis South London from Damian Green, the Policing Minister, in which he said the Coalition is actively considering amending legislation on so-called rape pornography .

In his letter Green said: The Government is now actively considering the serious matters [raised by campaigners] including amending the existing criminal law.

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Liz Longhurst and Martin SalterCampaigner Liz Longhurst has said she is disappointed that the Dangerous Pictures Act banning extreme porn has not been implemented as well as it could have been.

Longhurst, who campaigner alongside former Brighton Kemptown MP David Lepper for the law, part of the 2008 Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, to be implemented, spoke on the tenth anniversary of her daughter Jane’s death.

She wanted watching extreme porn to be outlawed because her daughter Jane’s killer, Graham Coutts, looked at such pornographic images before killing her.

Woefully uninformed, Longhurst said:

I am very disappointed that the law has not been used more.

As far as I am aware it has only been used on a handful of occasions.

However, I am very glad there is such a law, even if I am disappointed it is not used as often as it could be.

In fact the Dangerous Pictures Act has been used countless times. It is used by police to persecute those being investigated on other charges who have had to submit their computers for police search. It is also used to add to the charge list for those prosecuted on more serious charges.

However Longhurst is right in one respect, it has been used very few times for the purpose that it was originally envisaged by Longhurst and co.