Pornography Legislation Threatens Free Expression

By Alicia Warner

There are artists that have made a career of depicting the sexual nature of humans and have always received objections to the level of controversy. However, a proposed legislation against pornography will mean that one day these artists could be seen as ‘criminals’ in the eyes of the law.

The proposed legislation, under section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, reflects how much we may be losing our right to free expression.

The change in the law was set up intended to target those that view illegal porn websites, ultimately shifting the criminal responsibility from the producer to the consumer. Initially proposed to rid of porn that depicts sexual violence, the law in fact concerns itself with much more.

Artists such as Ben Westwood, son of the famous fashion designer Vivienne, are fighting in a campaign against the attack on pornography, as his line of photography is famous for depicting erotic imagery that explores human sexuality. His 2005 publication, “F**k Fashion” depicts images of women bound and gagged. Although the women in the photographs are all consenting models soon those that are found in possession of the book would effectively be breaking the law. Arguably soft porn, Westwood proudly concerns himself with the art world and fights for his position.

Westwood has joined the campaign Caan – the Consenting Adults Action Network – to fight alongside those that fear for their careers. If the legislation is passed the likes of Westwood and Tracey Emin will be in the same league as thieves and fraudsters; everyday criminals, only because of what their artwork expresses.

It is difficult to draw fine line is between ‘arts’ and ‘porn’ and it’s easy to understand why some would want to be protected from the world of explicitly sexual media. However, it seems absurd that artists should be called ‘criminals’ as a result.