LONDON — Backlash today announced plans to provide legal advice to 16- to 18-year-olds who send each other consensual sexually explicit images but have been threatened with criminal prosecution for possessing those images of themselves and shared consensually.
The London-based organization that provides academic, legal and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression said that its latest stance is in reaction to “a politically charged moral panic over young people’s attitudes to sexuality is leading to Internet censorship and the labelling of ordinary young people as sex offenders.”
Backlash will campaign for a change in the law so that prosecutions intended to halt child abuse are not used to instigate the abuse of children through the criminal justice system, the group said.
Obscenity law attorney Myles Jackman, who’s leading Backlash’s latest campaign, said that “politicians have been exploiting selfie culture” with new laws and show just how disconnected they are from technological change and social values.
In a blog posting Jackman recently said: “It is my opinion that by simultaneously criminalizing the selfie generation with one hand, whilst failing to educate them with the other, our political elite have demonstrated that they are eminently capable of playing the child-protection card, but willfully neglectful when it comes to following suit.”
Backlash said the latest campaign will help fund effective defenses when support available under legal aid is inadequate, and develop arguments for a judicial review of existing legislation.
“Backlash will also disseminate a growing body of robust academic research evidence to policymakers, challenging the current legislative process, which is dominated by a climate of ignorance and hysteria regarding young people’s attitudes to sexual relationships,” the group said.
On its website, Backlash reminds site visitors of all ages that they must ask themselves whether their porn they possess is legal in the U.K.:
“Did you know it is illegal to possess ‘extreme pornography’? This includes adult pornography deemed realistic, explicit and depicting at least one of these things:
• An act which threatens a person’s life;
• An act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals;
• An act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse; or
• A person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive).
“Since early 2015 possession of fictional depictions of rape has also become a criminal offense. This includes images depicting rough sex and fantasy rape scenarios that are enjoyed safely and consensually by countless people throughout the U.K.
“This includes pretend acts and acts that are both legal and consensual to perform. Police have charged people over images of fisting, urethral sounding and (bizarrely) wearing gas masks. No alternative sex act is entirely safe.”