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Porn Cultures: Regulation, Political

Economy, Technology

Depraving and
Corrupting:
Sex Works and Obscenity
in the UK
Murray Perkins
British Board of Film Classification
Guidelines and Legislation

In 2000 the BBFC publishes Guidelines, the result of


extensive public consultation, which inform classification
decisions and incorporate new R18 standards

BBFC required to consider ‘harm’ under the Video


Recordings Act 1984

BBFC will not classify material believed to be in


breach of the law – Obscene Publications Act
1959
Video Recordings Act

Requires the BBFC to have special regard to the


likelihood of works being viewed in the home,
and to
Any harm to those likely to view a video

Any harm to society through the behaviour


of those viewers afterwards

Special regard to
-
- Criminal behaviour
-
- Use of illegal drugs
-
- Violent behaviour or incidents
-
- Horrific behaviour or incidents
-
- Human sexual activity
The Guidelines

Unacceptable content includes material in breach of


the criminal law;

Material (including dialogue) likely to encourage an


interest in sexually abusive activity (may include role-
play);

Portrayal of any activity which involves lack of consent.


Physical restraint which prevents a withdrawal of
consent;

Infliction of pain or physical harm (some allowance for


consensual BDSM). Penetration with objects likely to
cause harm or associated with violence;

Sexual threats, humiliation, abuse


Obscene Publications Act

“an article shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or


(where the article comprises two or more distinct items)
the effect of any one of its items is, if taken as a whole,
such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who
are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances,
to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied
in it.”

A defence of ‘public good’


Current interpretation of the OPA

Copraphagia – any sight of faeces in a sex work

Liquids other than semen or lubricant (used as lubricant)


being expelled from rectum (including enemas/anal
douches) if they display any sight or faecal matter, if they
come into contact with another person, or if drunk

‘Blood sports’ – a focus on menstrual blood, other than


incidental

Urolagnia – urination during sexual activity, onto another


person, being drunk, or poured, rubbed, smeared onto a
person

Fisting – penetration with all five digits beyond the


knuckles
Current interpretation of the OPA

‘Roman showers’ – activity resulting in/using vomit

Penetration with very large dildos

Sado-Masochistic Activity – under UK law it is not possible


to consent to assault, defined as injury beyond ‘trifling and
transient’. Regardless of country of filming, S&M activities
which appear to cause injury beyond ‘trifling and transient’
are likely to render a work obscene

Wax dripping – if there’s any suggestion of a lack of


consent or if the wax is dripped onto the genitals or anus

Bestiality

Necrophilia
Criminal Justice and
Immigration Act 2008

Creates a new offence of possession of extreme


pornographic images.

- It must be pornographic (produced solely or principally for


the purpose of sexual arousal)
- Be grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an
obscene character
- Portray in an explicit and realistic way, one of
An act which threatens a person’s life
An act which results or is likely to result in serious
injury to a person’s anus, breast or genitals
An act involving interference with a human corpse
A person performing an act of intercourse or oral
sex with an animal