New Zealand Watchdog Group Criticize Censors Over Gay Porn

Joanne Cachapero
JOHNSONVILLE, New Zealand — Christian-based morals watchdog group Society for Promotion of Community Standards (SPCS) issued a press release in late October, accusing New Zealand Chief Censor Bill Hastings and his deputy Nicola McCully, of being lenient when rating gay hardcore adult films.

The organization said that because both Hastings and McCully are openly gay, that they may be letting their sexual orientation influence the censorship process.

Another possibility alleged by the group is that Hastings, who has been Chief Censor since 1999, has become jaded after watching nearly a decade of pornography.

Hasting’s Classification Office examines various types of media content and impose a ratings system similar to the Motion Picture Association of American system used here in the U.S. New Zealand’s Chief Censor rates visual content, as well as print media.

The SPCS raised also the issue of bareback gay adult films and the controversy created by the issue of unsafe sex in movies. Bareback titles are easily accessible in New Zealand.

The organization quoted NZ AIDS Foundation’s Douglas Jenkin who said, “The debate over its morality and dangers is heating up over bareback porn both within the American porn industry and without.

“Today there is little outcry amongst gay and bisexual men protesting its existence [bareback porn], and it’s easily dismissed [by gay users] as ‘fantasy’ or ‘a choice,’” Jenkin said.

To further back their claims, the SPCS quoted NZ porn czar Steve Crow, who owns an adult multimedia company that includes distribution facilities, production studios, retail outlets and Vixen.co.nz.

Crowe has stated publicly that he feels as if Hastings is applying a double standard to heterosexual adult films, and said, “Hardcore homosexual porn is OK with our censors, hardcore heterosexual porn apparently is not. Perhaps this is a direct reflection of the personal attitudes of the Chief and Deputy Chief Censors, both of whom are gay.”

Apparently, Crowe is upset with the number of adult films he has submitted to Hasting’s office that have then been returned for further editing or rejected. Crowe alleges that Hastings does not apply the same standards to gay adult content, especially bareback films, which passes through the ratings process untouched.

Crowe has also criticized the Classification Office for allowing content that depicts extreme violence, and said that the censors are “far more tolerant of violence, rape and murder, often with a little bit of sex thrown in for good measure, than they are of explicit sex, especially if there is even the slightest hint of coercion or violence. It seems to be acceptable to our censors to flood us with media depicting violence, no matter how extreme as long as, God forbid, we don’t show people having sex.”

Hastings asked the gay community to send their opinions to his office on the influence that explicit “bareback” sex DVDs, has on viewers and society, gay or straight and also about what they think the Classification Office should do about them within existing law; and on whether and how they think the law should be changed.

The Chief Censor has been a target of the pro-censorship SPCS for several years, even as some gay rights groups countered that he has been a fair judge of media content.

He has admitted also that films can have an affect on viewers.

“Depictions of explicit sexual behavior, like all other depictions are capable of influencing viewers – this is pretty undeniable,” Hastings said. “It is the assumption Parliament made when it passed the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 so that words, images and sounds could be classified.”

Reportedly, he has even called gay bareback producers “disingenuous” for alleging that their films do not influence viewers to participate in unsafe sex practices.

“Advertisers wouldn’t spend billions of dollars persuading us to switch brands of coffee if they didn’t think that words, images and sounds could influence us,” he said.

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