Ban on fetish porn including BDSM overturned in England in landmark ruling

Porn depicting a number of sex acts in now legal in the UK (Getty Images)

Pornography depicting a number of previously banned sex acts has been made legal in England after a review of obscenity laws.

Essentially, sex acts that are not illegal in another context can now be shown in pornography.

Certain types of violent porn are now permitted so long as the sex acts are consensual (focusing on ‘full and freely exercised consent’,) do not cause serious harm to participants, are not ‘inextricably linked with other criminality’ and are not likely to be viewed by anyone under the age of 18.

Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, who has campaigned for these changes for a number of years, told Yahoo News UK that the change had wider implications for the law.

He said: “It is a very impressive that they’ve introduced the idea of full and freely exercised consent in the law.

“Even for people with no interest in pornography this is very important for consent and bodily autonomy.”

Activist and queer porn filmmaker Pandora Blake, who also campaigned to have the ban on the depiction of certain sex acts overturned, called the news a ‘welcome improvement’.

They said: “This is a happy day for queer, feminist and fetish porn.”

Acts that were banned that can now be depicted include:

  • Spanking
  • BDSM
  • Female ejaculation
  • Urinating (also known as watersports)
  • Strangling
  • Face-sitting
  • Fisting
  • Humiliation

In 2014 laws were altered to ban pornography created in the UK from showing certain sex acts, sparking accusations of censorship particularly targeting female pleasure.

The laws also failed to distinguish between consensual and non-consensual acts, particularly when force or humiliation were involved.

UK viewers could still view pornography of this type created elsewhere in the world.

When the ban was brought in, Mr Jackman said: “Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die. If this assault on liberty is allowed to go unchallenged, other freedoms will fall as a consequence.

“This declaration of State censorship will affect millions of consenting adults who choose to view British pornography; impose an unnecessary trade barrier, which has already caused independent UK producers to shut down; result in a significant loss of revenue to The Treasury; is practically unworkable as it can be circumvented by proxy servers; and has implications for all forms of freedom of expression on the internet.

“Of particular concern in terms of loss of freedom is the underlying intent to allow undesirable foreign websites to be blocked under UK ISP’s filtering systems. This has immeasurable implications on freedom of information and net neutrality.”