Sections of the gay community have joined protests against proposed legislation which would make possession of violent and extreme pornographic material a crime.

The controversial law has been put through consultation by the Home Office after a campaign from family and friends of Jane Longhurst who was murdered in 2003 by a violent porn addict.

Graham Coutts was convicted of her murder in 2004 after Ms Longhurst was found strangled to death a year previously in West Sussex, during the case jurors were told of his obsession with strangulation and websites dedicated to the fetish.

Under the government proposals, it would become an offence to possess pornographic images depicting scenes of extreme sexual violence and other obscene material punishable by up to three years in prison.

But groups involved in bondage, domination and sadomasochistic (BDSM) activities claim the law is too vague and could lead to innocent people being prosecuted despite consenting to activities.

Louise Morris, a member of the BDSM community, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I could well be an innocent victim of this new bill if it is made law.

“The government do not recognise an image as being that of consensual “play,” all they see is a crime that could and will create serious harm or death. They want to dictate what my sexuality is and how I should be doing things.

“I know that the gay community themselves had a battle with acceptance not so long ago, and you all fought it and gained a huge amount of respect from everyone because you are open, you showed that your sexuality was indeed yours.

“We are trying to show people that we are not freaks of nature, we are not a fanatical sex cult, we are not abnormal .. we are doing what we like and want it accepted that the things we do are perceived as safe, sane and consensual, we are not the hybrid sexual deviants that others seem to think we all are.”

She is a member of Backlash, a support group for the hobby, reportedly followed by around four million people, who are leading the petition along with other groups such as SMDykes, and Slaveboys.com, which cater for the lesbian and gay community.

The petition says: “It is proposed by the current UK government to criminalise the viewing of certain pornographic material. We, the undersigned have no objection to laws which make extreme violent and dangerous acts illegal, but feel current proposals are too vague and not defined tightly enough to implement fairly.

“We therefore oppose government proposals to make it illegal to view these images because the proposals could lead to hundreds of thousands of ordinary, innocent people being sent to jail and possibly having their names added to the Sex Offender’s Register just because the government doesn’t like what they choose to look at.

” If it becomes law it will put unnecessary strain on already stretched police resources.

“We call on the Government to get out of our bedrooms and abandon the proposed legislation.”

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said: “The vast majority of people find these forms of violent and extreme pornography deeply abhorrent. This sort of material is not just offensive it contains images of sexual acts and sexual violence that are already illegal to publish or distribute in the UK.

“Such material has no place in our society but the advent of the internet has meant that this material is more easily available and means existing controls are being by-passed – we must move to tackle this.

“By banning the possession of such material the Government is sending out a strong message – that it is totally unacceptable and those who access it will be held to account.

“This is a complex issue on which we have consulted widely.

“Our intention to legislate in this area has the support of various organisations, including women’s and children’s groups and police forces. In addition, a petition signed by around 50,000 people objecting to extreme internet sites promoting violence against women in the name of sexual gratification was presented to Parliament.”