Light at the end of the tunnel – UK Porn Guidelines relaxed

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So much over the last few months has been talking about the attack on porn and adult content providers or sex workers. About how new legislation is closing the door to this industry on social media, banking and many other ways. Well, the CPS has announced that through all this they have declassified many of the previously considered “obscene” acts and they can now not be prosecuted.

Many BDSM related scenes had previously been classified as “obscene” and although it was legal to perform such acts between consenting adults, it was illegal to distribute pictures or videos of these acts. Owning or distributing such images was previously an offence under the Obscene Publications Act. Distributing doesn’t just cover porn sites or magazines, this could be as simple as sending to someone via a message and could actually be punishable by time in prison if the CPS decided to prosecute. The Obscene Publications Acr was initially introduced in 1959 to protect the public from what those in power said could “deprave or corrupt” them. It was under this law that many pornographers and sex shop proprietors were arrested and sentenced to prison in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

The Cambridge dictionary describes the word obscene as meaning :

Offensive, rude or shocking, usually because of being too obviously related to sex or showing sex.

Well, if that is the case then all porn would be illegal as it would all be considered obscene, and of course, it once was, so at least we have moved on somewhat. As it is not possible to agree on what is considered obscene, everyone has different views on the subject, the Crown Prosecution Service offered guidelines on which type of content could be held under the act and could be punishable and ultimately lead to prosecution. As you would expect, acts which are not just morally wrong but also illegal fall under these guidelines such as underage or bestiality. However, what you may not know is that other acts which, between consenting adults, could be argued as being perfectly safe and acceptable by most were in fact on the list. These included –

  • Sadomasochism
  • Torture
  • Bondage
  • Humiliation
  • Acts involving “perversion” such as bodily functions

The CPS has now come to conclusion, rightly so, that it is not up to them to decide what is obscene or could morally corrupt the general public and has removed the specific examples from their guidance, they stated: “It is not for the CPS to decide what is considered good taste or objectionable”.

Instead of stating what is not acceptable and could be prosecuted their guidance now states what is unlikely to be prosecuted so if the porn you distribute fits in with this you should be good to go. This test for acceptability goes as follows  –

  • It features consenting adults, where the provision of consent is made clear where
  • consent may not be easily determined from the material itself
  • No serious harm is caused, whether physical or otherwise
  • It is not otherwise linked with other criminality
  • The likely audience is not under 18

The CPS added, “(we will) continue to robustly apply the law to anything which crosses the line into criminal conduct and serious harm.”

Much of this change is down to the tireless work of lawyer Myles Jackson who led the fight for a change to the laws. He told BBC News “I have campaigned for this important change to the English criminal law, which has a profound impact for free speech and privacy”. You may also remember that back in 2014 when the CPS had changed their guidelines to include spanking etc… in their obscene acts list, many sex workers and campaigners took to Parliament Square in London to make a stand, or sit, against it. They proceeded to partake in a mass face sitting protest against the strict censorship.

This relaxation to the CPS guidelines should go some way to taking away some of the animosity towards pornographic material and those who provide it, it is a strong step to take for the CPS and in doing so it is supporting freedom of speech and expression. Moving away from porn being considered unlawful.

Until next time, keep those questions coming and stay decadent.

Email dr.decadence@dailysport.co.uk

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