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Sex Party proposes new classification system for Oz

Non-violent erotica category

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As an alternative, the ASP suggests that censors should actively promote the responsible enjoyment of erotica, endorsing positive messages about consensual and safe sexual activity, and condemning non-consensual sexual activity and sexual violence. This should be supported by developing a best practice model with recommendations for the ethical production of pornography that is rewarding and positive for the contributor, including contacts and networks between models/performers to ensure they can access industry information, standardised contracts, legal advice and health testing.

Hazel Eracleous, chair of Backlash UK, which has campaigned vigorously against legal restrictions on what material consenting adults may legally watch and possess, is in favour of greater backing to safe practices in the erotic film industry. She told us: "I think this is an essential start in establishing trust and clarity in the industry and reassuring the consumer and the performers of the legitimacy and legality of their work.

"A variety of classifications to cover all porn is an excellent idea and assists in consumer choice and also raises awareness of the issues surrounding adult film work. It also opens a dialogue, much needed in Australia, on the role and reflective quality of porn in society."

In addition, all appointees of the Classification Board and Classification Review Board should receive training in the latest developments around sexuality to bring them up to date with a pluralistic range of adult sexualities, subcultures, behaviours and body types.

Finally, the censors should introduce R, X and NVE ratings for computer games. This is an Australian issue, with Australia one of the few legislatures in the western world not to permit the distribution of adult computer games – for the simple reason that it doesn’t have an appropriate classification for them.

The real significance of this story lies in the fact that it is a significant attempt to put forward an alternative to current models of film and media censorship by a body with some public standing. Instead of film producers complaining about cuts, the Australian Sex Party is here proposing an alternative way forward which seems likely to strike a chord with a large number of similar bodies across the globe.

It is, nonetheless, unlikely to find favour with bodies that take a more cautious view of what is broadcast. Vivienne Pattson, director of Mediawatch-UK, told The Register: "It is all very well to claim that films showing consensual acts between adults are harmless to those who produce them and those who view them. In truth, though, the biggest lie is that porn is ok and that no-one gets hurt. If you look at the industry in which these sort of films get made, women are hurt, exploited and damaged.

"On top of that, the entire porn industry fosters an unfortunate attitude towards objectification of women. It tells people it is OK to view a woman in a certain way.

"There is a trickle down effect which results from our attitude towards porn: as I come to work, I regularly pass a billboard showing a provocative and erotic picture of a woman. What message is being sent to five-year-olds? That it is just OK for a woman to take her clothes off in order to sell something?" ®

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