Gay people are being unfairly targeted by porn ban claims new report

Gay people and sexual minorities are being unfairly targeted by the UK government’s extreme porn ban, according to leading think tank the Adam Smith Institute.

The ban on possession of ‘extreme pornography’ was introduced in 2009 and extended in 2015 to include acts such as fisting, BDSM and face sitting.

According to the Adam Smith Institute, the law has lead to numerous cases where members of the LGBT community have been forced to endure unnecessary prosecution, because it presents “a particular legal vulnerability for gay men and other sexual minorities.”

One such case involves Simon Walsh, a prominent barrister and former aide to Boris Johnson, who was prosecuted for possession of ‘extreme pornography.’ “His alleged crime was the possession of photographs depicting fisting and urethral sounding taken at a private all-male sex party where he was a participant,” states the report.

“The prosecution claimed that the acts depicted were extreme because they could cause serious harm.” However, it took only a few minutes for the jury to deliberate and reject all the charges against him.

The report makes note of the time and money wasted on court proceedings and the personal cost the case had on Simon Walsh himself. “Intimate details of his sex life were exposed to judgement in a very public forum,” the report explains.

“Moreover, the Crown Prosecution Service has continued to argue that the grounds for prosecution were sound and that the images were ‘extreme’, leaving depictions of these practices open to further prosecutions. This suggests a particular legal vulnerability for gay men and other sexual minorities. For a law that was originally intended to address violence against women, this is a perverse result indeed.”

Nick Cowen, author of the paper commented on the wide-sweeping and exceedingly worrying nature of the the legislation: “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.”

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, the report says, “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.”

In fact, the current legislation is so sweeping, that someone receiving a unsolicited images on Whatsapp groups could be charged with possession of extreme pornographic material.

One attempted prosecution for bestiality in Wales, the report explains, involved a video of a badly photo shopped tiger superimposed over a man’s body, saying the line “That’s grrrreat!” to the camera.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director of the Adam Smith Institute commented: “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.”

GT has approached the Home Office for comment on the report.

You can read the full report from Nick and the Adam Smith Institute right here.

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