Dave Page, the Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, explains how the release of 50 Shades of Grey shows regulatory double-standards for extreme porn.

This Valentines Day, the film 50 Shades of Grey is released, certificate 18.



According to the rating, “The film contains strong sex and nudity, along with the portrayal of erotic role play based on domination, submission and sado-masochistic practices. There are also strong verbal references to such practices and the instruments used.”

The important word in the rating is portrayal – as the BBFC make clear, “the distinction, in a general sense, is that at R18 the performers are really having sex and at 18 they aren’t.”

This distinction does not exist in Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which only cares whether an “extreme porn” image is “realistic”, not real.

These regulations have resulted in a large number of unsuccessful but invasive and damaging prosecutions, including that of Simon Walsh and Michael Peacock, and have recently been extended to cover streaming online porn.

This extension is being protested by organisations like Backlash, and performers like Pandora Blake.

When images and video of consenting adults engaging in acts which are legal to perform are censored, and a film widely criticised for portraying an abusive relationship without informed consent is released as an 18, something is wrong with our legislation.

I’m proud that Lib Dem MPs tabled an Early Day Motion against the extension of the regulations to video-on-demand, but we need to go further.

This sort of censorship is not exclusively an issue for lesbian, gay, bi and/or trans people.

However, consenting adults engaging in BDSM are discriminated against with similar slurs and for similar reasons – for challenging the standard heteronormative, patriarchal model of assumed consent. Further, this legislation is used more often and more harshly against LGBT people.

In a liberal society, people should be free from conformity, from the fear of others’ ignorance, and from an overbearing nanny state intruding in our private lives.

Dave Page is Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

As with all opinion, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.




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