Reforming Pornography Laws: Recommendations to Parliamentary Review

Are English laws on pornography fit for purpose? If not, how should the law be changed?

These are some of the issues addressed in the evidence I gave to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Violence inquiry into sexual violence and pornography in April 2018.

The evidence session, chaired by MP Sarah Champion (pictured), also heard evidence from David Austin of the BBFC and Dr Maddy Coy.

You can read my evidence submission here.

Based on my research with Dr Fiona Vera-Gray, Dr Hannah Bows and Prof Erika Rackley, my main recommendations are:

Recommendations for Reforming Pornography Laws to APPG on Sexual Violence

  • Obscenity:
    1. Undertake wholesale review of laws relating to obscenity and pornography to re-orientate focus to harms against women and modernise the law to cope with changing technology; and
    2. Revisit CPS and BBFC guidance on what constitutes ‘obscenity’ removing depiction of lawful acts such as urination, menstruation and fisting.
  • Amend extreme pornography laws:
    1. to remove obscenity threshold;
    2. to include ‘context’ when deciding if an image is extreme;
    3. to introduce a public good defence;
    4. to extend scope of the defence of participation in consensual acts; and
    5. to seek introduction of sentencing guidelines.
  • Amend image-based sexual abuse laws:
    1. Reframe image-based sexual abuse offences as sexual offences, thereby recognising connections to other forms of sexual violence and extending automatic anonymity to all complainants;
    2. Amend law to cover altered (photoshopped) images; and
    3. Strengthen law to cover all forms of non-consensual creation and distribution of intimate images, including ‘upskirt’ images and threats to create/distribute images.
  • Expert sex and relationships education for all young people in all schools
  • Clarify framing of obscenity, pornography and image-based sexual abuse as forms of violence against women



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