'Sex & Censorship' Holds Rally at XBIZ EU

LONDON — Sex & Censorship, the new U.K. group spearheaded by free speech advocate Jerry Barnett that is attempting to find ways to keep the Internet uncensored in the country, had a town hall rally Monday evening at XBIZ EU.

The meeting coincided with XBIZ EU’s annual London convention and drew a packed convention hall at the Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Hotel in central London. The session, which packed the convention hall, was open to XBIZ EU attendees, as well as the general public.

U.K. obscenity attorney Myles Jackman, stripper and activist Edie Lamort, porn star Karina Currie and adult producer and designer Ben Yates, joined by video messages from Barnett and Kink.com founder Peter Acworth, provided numerous reasons and anecdotal tales why the U.K. should dump Prime Minister David Cameron’s porn opt-in plan and lobby ATVOD for a more reasonable plan that wouldn’t punish adult distributors in the country, as well as operators of foreign porn sites, for delivery of content. The hour-long meeting was hosted by the Free Speech Coalition’s Diane Duke.

Some of the meeting's talking points included a background to U.K. censorship laws and the filter plans and identification of opposition groups attacking sexual freedoms. It also discussed the rise in moral panic and the need to counter it and next-step ideas.

Barnett, who couldn’t attend the meeting, told attendees through a video message that the U.K. has the strongest censorship laws in the world and that the country has spiraled enforcement upward in the past 30 years.

“The U.K. is breaking ground with censorship … we have groups creating a panic,” said Barnett, reasoning why he formed Sex & Censorship.

Barnett in his message said he’s trying to mount additional campaigns and fundraisers to get the message across that censorship is unacceptable and unhealthy in the U.K.

Currie, who has been in the industry since 1999, said that porn is a “natural form of sexual expression” and that the key to solving fear-driven exploits against porn is education.

“I have seen many changes since then,” she said. “One of the changes has been the explosion of the Internet, as well as censorship,” she said. “Sex is part of our primordial drive to procreate. It is a natural thing. Children need to be taught at a much younger age [about sex] in households and in schools. Education is key.

“To ban [porn completely] would be to take away freedom of speech and freedom of access to information,” she said. “Human beings shouldn’t be nannied and told what to do and what not to do.”

In his discussion, Yates focused on ATVOD, which for the past three years has regulated on-demand video on the Internet.

ATVOD’s CEO, Pete Johnson, spoke earlier in the day at XBIZ EU, outlining new rules and enforcement targeting adult entertainment companies over rules on age verification, and that session was hot on Yates’ mind.

“ATVOD is here to stay, and we need to do our best to engage them,” Yates said. “As an industry in this country we need to come together. But unfortunately we don’t have that in the U.K.”

As for ATVOD, “Who regulates the regulator?” he asked.  

Acworth, a British national, said in his video message from Kink’s headquarters in San Francisco that Cameron’s opt-in plan is a big mistake. “It’s a step backwards,” he said. “I don’t see any rhyme or reason to it. Who can say what pornography is?”

Jackman, a litigator for London-based Hodge, Jones & Allen, said it is not impossible to stop oppressive laws facing the U.K. adult industry.

“We need your support doing this,” he said, noting that he has three current adult entertainment cases that challenge guidelines, legislation, legality and process.

“It is very important that we take on this insidious anti-libertarian, anti-free speech and anti-right for adults to view pornography if they choose to,” he said.

Lamort made a similar plea to rally the adult biz for change against a growing movement to turn the clocks back: “These people won’t stop -- ban porn, ban lads mags, ban burlesque,” she said.

“We are facing a counter sexual revolution; we are facing puritanism,” she said.