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Ban on Violent Porn Possession Advances in U.K.

Some lawmakers objected to bill, asked for changes to allow possession of BDSM, other content featuring consenting adults.
Ban on Violent Porn Possession Advances in U.K.
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Jan 11, 2008 5:00 AM PST    Text size: 
LONDON — Proposals to ban possession of violent adult content in the U.K. appear poised to clear the House of Commons, according to reports from Bloomberg news service.

Yesterday, the lower body of Parliament was to complete its final reading of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which among other things would prohibit possession of sexual images in which a person’s life appears to be threatened, or where sexual acts with human corpses or animals are depicted.

Some lawmakers from both the ruling Labor Party and the opposing Conservative Party sought to make changes to the bill by allowing images made of consenting adults and/or actors, but none of them wanted to delay or stop the progress of the bill to the House of Lords.

“Everybody is opposed to violent acts that are real violent acts, but when it is simply for sexual purposes such as bondage, it shouldn’t be a criminal offense,” the Labor Party’s Harry Cohen said. “The definition of what will be an offense is far too wide. People won’t know what the threshold is.”

Deborah Hyde, a spokeswoman for Backlash, an activist group opposed to the legislation, said that the rules would allow the government to jail offenders for three years for creating violent images with the consent of their partner — an especially dicey proposition if their partner were to have a change of heart after the fact.

“If you and your partner make a film of yourselves and store it on your computer and if that relationship breaks down, a vengeful ex-lover could report you to the police for having these images and you could face a prison sentence,” Hyde said.

The British government said that producers of violent and/or “extreme” content that operate in the U.K. are already covered under existing laws. The relevant provisions of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill would apply to possession of violent images in an attempt to curb the acquisition of such content produced in the U.S. and in Eastern Europe.

Proposals to ban on violent adult content first came up as the result of a long lobbying campaign waged by Liz Longhust, the mother of a schoolteacher murdered in England in 2003 by Graham Coutts, who admitted to having a predilection for violent pornography.

If approved by the House of Commons, the measure would next have to meet the approval of the House of Lords before becoming law.

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