Thanks to verte for the introduction. Here’s a brief-as-possible summary of the current status of the British government’s proposals to ban the possession of “extreme pornography”.
These proposals have been included as Part Six of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on 8 October. If the bill is passed as is, people will be at risk of entry on the Sex Offenders’ Register, and up to three years in jail, just for owning an “extreme image”.
As for what on earth an “extreme image” might be, the bill has become even vaguer on this subject since the consultation stage. It states:
‘An “extreme image” is an image of any of the following—
(a) an act which threatens or appears to threaten a person’s life,
(b) an act which results in or appears to result (or be likely to result) in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals,
(c) an act which involves or appears to involve sexual interference with a human corpse,
(d) a person performing or appearing to perform an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal, where (in each case) any such act, person or animal depicted in the image is or appears to be real.’
Categories c and d are not relevant to consensual sexual activity in the SM community. However, a and b are likely to have extremely serious consequences. No distinction is made between images of real or staged sexual violence, and it appears not to have entered the heads of the drafters that there could be any distinction between sexual assault and consensual rough play.
A rigorous interpretation of the law could make pictures of everything from breathplay to fisting illegal. A really aggressive interpretation could make even images of vanilla sex without a condom illegal, as the participants could contract a life-threatening disease. How the law is interpreted will depend entirely on the investigating authorities.
Most ridiculously of all, it will become illegal to “extract an [extreme pornographic] image” from a “classified work”. This means that you can still buy James Bond: Casino Royale from WHSmiths, but if you take a still from the ball-busting scene you will be a violent pornographer!
Now the proposals are at bill stage, the government has also abandoned the emotive waffle about ‘protecting’ women and children that characterized the earlier stages of the process. Instead, in note 803 to the bill, they specifically refer to the footage in the Spanner case, describing it as ‘the type of activity covered by the offence’. Such material, it says, is ‘abhorrent to most people’.
The UK government, which has prided itself on its support of gay rights, is using one of the most notorious recent miscarriages of justice against gay people as a foundation stone for a new wave of sexual repression. They are doing so in the name of ‘protecting’ women, even though they have not bothered to produce a single concrete example of how women or anyone else will be served by a law that eradicates the distinction between actual sexual assault and photos of kinky fun.
To find out more about the Backlash campaign, visit www.backlash-uk.org.uk