Press Release: Political Porns: Brits Face Jail Under Draconian Porn Laws

For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.

Nanny State could get you arrested for private bedroom antics reveals new report

•           A third of adults in the UK fantasise about domination and submission
•           Extreme porn laws blunt tool for enforcing presumed moral values
•           Risk criminalising over half the population rather than catching paedophiles
•           Pornography could actually reduce sexual violence
 
Today, the Adam Smith Institute releases a report urging the government to scrap ineffective extreme pornography laws. The report argues that there is no concrete evidence that pornography increases cases of sexual violence, and that the laws - designed to convict paedophiles and necrophiliacs - are so broad as to threaten the private sexual matters of over half of Britain. 
 
The whole area of obscenity law needs to be redrafted argues the report, starting with the extreme pornography law. The current legislation is so sweeping as to allow those who receive unsolicited images on Whatsapp groups to be charged with possession of extreme pornographic images, with one attempted prosecution for bestiality in Wales involving a video of a badly photo shopped tiger superimposed over a man's body, delivering the line “That’s grrrreat!” to the camera.
 
A survey* of 19,000 adults in the UK found that 86% of men and 56% of women admitted to having viewed pornography, with a third of adults fantasising about playing a dominant or aggressive role during sex, and a third fantasising about being submissive. Six per cent of UK adults, or approximately 2.9 million men and women, admitted to privately having violent sexual fantasies of some kind, meaning that hundreds of thousands of normal people who pose no specific risk of committing sexual offences could be targeted as criminals under the extreme porn law.
 
The paper goes on to argue that the current law could be used as a ‘blackmailer’s charter’ in the same way as homosexuality was before it was legalised in 1967. Completely consensual acts between sexual minorities are being blamed for all manner of social ills, and the individuals themselves are being punished for wider harms for which they are not plausibly responsible.
 
The threat that this law poses to the sanctity of free speech and the privacy of our personal lives is twofold. As well as potentially being used to test the water for more radical censorship in the pipeline, the unspecific nature of this legislation means that it can be used to discredit individuals who are in dispute with a public authority. 
 
Numerous studies have also found that as pornography becomes more widely available, cheaper, or more tailored to individual desire, sexual violence falls. Crackdowns on representations lead to more demand for the real thing.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute said:

“Most people don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but that’s what extreme porn laws do. This report highlights just how bad these laws really are – they turn millions of law-abiding adults into potential criminals simply for enjoying consensual spanking or dressing up in the bedroom. The evidence is very clear that pornography does not drive violence, and indeed it may reduce it. These are badly drafted laws that should never have made it to the statute books, and this report confirms the urgent need for the government to scrap them.”

Nick Cowen, author of the paper said:

“The extreme porn ban criminalises depictions of sex acts even if they are safely performed by consenting adults. We have seen the law used, in particular, to target and expose gay men. Each such case represents a personal tragedy and a disgraceful use of our criminal justice system's scarce resources. The costs of the law are disproportionate to any public benefit, and as implemented cannot plausibly protect women’s interests for which the ban was supposedly introduced.”
 

-ENDS-


Notes to editors:                                                        
*Data taken from the British Sexual Fantasy Research Project 2007
 
For further comments or to arrange an interview, contact Flora Laven-Morris, Head of Communications, at flora@adamsmith.org | 07584 778207.
 
To report ‘Nothing to Hide: The case against the ban on extreme pornography’ can be accessed here


The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, libertarian think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

Further work by Nick Cowen: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajps.12238/full