A leading think tank that a UK-wide ban on extreme porn is unfairly targeting gay men.

Successive governments have clamped down on ‘extreme’ pornography – with the Conservatives introducing introducing harsh new rules in 2015 banning the possession of images or videos of “acts likely to cause serious harm to the breasts, genitals or anus”



The current interpretation of the law means that even some acts that are legal to carry out, including fisting and some BDSM practises, can lead to prosecution if filmed.

A leading think tank has produced a report which warns that some of the acts are more common in male gay porn – despite the law’s stated purpose being intended to address violence against women.

The Adam Smith Institute report, produced by Nicholas Cowen of Kings College London, alleges the law encompasses “a particular legal vulnerability for gay men and other sexual minorities”.

It notes: “In August 2012, Simon Walsh, a prominent barrister, City of London alderman, and former aide to mayor Boris Johnson, was prosecuted for possession of ‘extreme pornography’.

“His alleged crime was possession of photographs depicting ‘fisting’ and ‘urethral sounding’ taken at a private all-male sex party where Walsh was a participant.

“The prosecution claimed that the acts depicted were extreme because they could cause serious harm.

“The jury heard from a surgeon who gave expert evidence that the acts, which are relatively commonly practiced within the LGBT community, could be conducted safely. It took the jury just a few minutes of deliberation to reject all charges.”

He said: “Despite the ‘not guilty’ verdict, the trial came at great personal cost to Walsh. Intimate details of his sex life were exposed to judgement in a very public forum.

“Moreover, the Crown Prosecution Service has continued to argue that the grounds for prosecution were sound and that the images were ‘extreme’, leaving depictions of these practices open to further prosecutions.

“This suggests a particular legal vulnerability for gay men and other sexual minorities. For a law that was originally intended to address violence against women, this is a perverse result indeed.”

Sam Bowman, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute said: “Most people don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but that’s what extreme porn laws do. This report highlights just how bad these laws really are – they turn millions of law-abiding adults into potential criminals simply for enjoying consensual spanking or dressing up in the bedroom.

“The evidence is very clear that pornography does not drive violence, and indeed it may reduce it. These are badly drafted laws that should never have made it to the statute books, and this report confirms the urgent need for the government to scrap them.”




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