Campaign History

January 2009

The law came into force.

January 2008

Following approval of the Bill in their Second Reading on 22 January, the House of Lords scheduled Tuesday 5th February to consider the Bill in Committee.

More Government amendments were promised in this Second Reading, during which several Lords were critical of the extreme image clauses.

Baroness Miller, for example, said “Legislation needs to be objective and evidence-based, not subjective” and “We need to concentrate on the fact that this sloppy clause is dangerous”.

In the House of Commons Third reading on 9 January, Labour MP John McDonnell reflected the feelings of many MPs in saying “On Third Reading, only one Back Bencher has been allowed to speak for 90 seconds …. some have described that as a disgrace. Today, we have sunk to a new level in the House in failing properly to scrutinise the Bill.”

Summing up for the Lib Dems, David Heath said “I think this has been a deplorable advertisement for the powers of this House to scrutinise legislation effectively.”

“The proposals on extreme pornography are controversial in some circles and will have an effect. People might be expected to be able to express a view on them, but again we have not had the opportunity to discuss them at all.”

“This seriously large and important Bill has received inadequate scrutiny.”

But on 9th January 2008 the House of Commons agreed the Bill and sent it to the Lords for their approval. Ministers said they expected further amendments would be made by the Lords.

November 2007

Labour MP Harry Cohen tabled amendments eliminating references to “appears to” and introducing an exemption for staged acts undertaken by consenting actors.

The effect of these on the law, if passed, can be found here. Bit by undertaking to “to reflect on any concerns that Members of the Committee have raised and to see whether we can improve the wording of the clause” the Governnment got key amendments tabled with the help of Backlash evidence in the Committee stage withdrawn.

Key extracts of MPs’ detailed scrutiny of clauses in the proposed Bill are also reprinted here together with a list of members of the committee.

October 2007

The House of Commons debated and approved the Bill at Second Reading (backlash issued a critique) after which it went to the Committee stage for detailed scrutiny.

June 2006

The Ministry of Justice announced the new extreme image laws in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill 2007 together with significant explantory notes.

November 2006

The Queen announced a new Criminal Justice Bill that will give the police and probation services new powers to protect the public from violent offenders and anti-social behaviour. Number 10 briefing documents said this will include proposals to criminalise the possesion of pornography.

August 2006 Home Office report back

On 30 August the Home Office released their response to the consultation replies, confirming their intention to push ahead with new laws. In Scotland they had already published their responses first – at least, those that got through the firewall blocking “inappropriate words” -.

March 2006 Is consensual infliction always unacceptable

The Scottish Law Commission asked if “the consensual infliction of non-minor injuries done for sexual purpose must always be deemed to be socially unacceptable. We seek to discover views on this topic. Accordingly, we set out the following proposal and question for consideration:”

“The offence of assault should not be constituted by any activity to which all of the parties have given their consent for purposes of sexual gratification.”

November 2005 Opinion of Queen’s Counsel

Via the Spanner Trust, Backlash sought independent advice from Rabinder Singh QC, a leading human rights lawyer at Matrix Chambers because the Home Office provided no justification for their bald assertion that “our proposal [is] compatible” with the Human Rights Act.

The QC’s opinion concludes ” I consider that the legislation as proposed gives rise to real concerns as to its compatibility with an individual’s rights under Articles 8 and 10 of the Convention.”

August 2005 Pornography consultation

The Home Office published a consultation document ( 175 Kb pdf or 85 Kb html versions )

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  • Backlash is an umbrella organisation providing academic, legal and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression. We support the rights of adults to participate in all consensual sexual activities and to watch, read and create any fictional interpretation of such in any media.