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UK Parliament Watch


2014: Oct-Dec

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You're banned from using certain words, and we're banned from telling you which words...

Ludicrous MP calls for derogatory terms to be totally banned from use in social media, newspapers and TV, regardless of the context


Link Here19th December 2014

Luciana Berger, the shadow Minister for Public Health, has called for Twitter to totally ban the use of derogatory terms, regardless of the context. She said the website should ban racist words such as kike , (a derogatory term for Jews) which she claims can never be used in a non-derogatory way. A clearly bollox claim proven by her very own non-derogatory use of the term!

Berger said:

Online hate needs to be taken as seriously as offline hate -- but it isn't. Twitter's response isn't good enough. It has a responsibility to do more to protect its users. The site is letting me and many others down who have been the subject of lots of hate... It could start by proactively banning racist words which aren't allowed to printed in newspapers or broadcast on TV that could never be used in a positive way -- such as kike -- a derogative and anti-Semitic term for describing a Jew.

One has to have a little sympathy for her, as she was on the receiving end of torrents of insults over her being jewish, but that doesn't really justify people in authority from putting forward rubbish knee jerk policy ideas. Such ideas deserve, and require, robust criticism and ridicule.

 

 

Updated: Gallant MPs...

Early Day Motion calls for the annulment of the Government's internet censorship decree


Link Here12th December 2014

Early day motion 605

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 (S.I., 2014, No. 2916), dated 4 November 2014, a copy of which was laid before this House on 6 November, be annulled.

Primary sponsor: Julian Huppert
Sponsors: John Leech and Mike Hancock

Update: 2 more gallant liberals

12th December 2014.

Andrew George (St. Ives) and David Ward (Bradford East) are Lib Dems who have joined the role call of honour.

Update: Julian Huppert gets a positive write up in the Daily Mail

12th December 2014. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Mail writes:

Spanking and whipping should not be banned in British-made online porn videos, Lib Dem MPs have demanded. Backbench MP Julian Huppert attacked rules revealed last week which ban a host of erotic acts considered harmful by ministers.

The new laws aim to bring video-on-demand online porn into line with videos sold in licensed sex shops. It means around 10 acts - ranging from spanking to strangulation, aggressive whipping and being tied up -- are now banned from web porn sold in the UK.

Mr Huppert has tabled a Commons motion calling for the new rules -- laid down in the Audiovisual Media Services Regulation 2014 -- to be annulled. He said:

The new rules mean that all video-on-demand services that originate from the UK can't show various acts, such as spanking.

It seems to me to be very odd to say that this - assuming it is consensual - is acceptable for somebody to do in their own home, for them to photograph it, film it, but not to look at it online if it comes from the UK.

To me the case for banning things should be driven by issues around consent, and around genuine risk, not about whether we happen to like things or not.

 

 

Update: Ripa abused by police to snoop on journalists...

Surveillance law allows police to act in an unacceptable way, says that Home Affairs Select committee


Link Here6th December 2014
Britain's surveillance laws, which have recently been used by the police to seize journalists's phone records in the Plebgate and Huhne cases, are not fit for purpose and need urgent reform, a Commons inquiry has found.

The Commons home affairs select committee says that the level of secrecy surrounding use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) allows the police to engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy .

The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, said the surveillance law was not fit for purpose:

Using Ripa to access telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistleblowers from coming forward.

The MPs' inquiry followed claims by Sun and Daily Mail journalists that the Metropolitan and Kent police forces were secretly using the powers to trawl through thousands of phone numbers to detect their confidential sources in high-profile stories.

In response Home Office ministers have claimed they will revise the Ripa rules on communications data requests involving sensitive professions such as journalists and lawyers.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said:

When a senior Parliamentary Committee says that the current legislation is not fit for purpose, then this simply cannot be ignored. It is now abundantly clear that the law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the recording of how the powers are used is patchy at best. The public is right to expect better.

The conclusion of the Committee that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of these powers is permitting investigations that are deemed unacceptable in a democracy, should make the defenders of these powers sit up and take notice. At present, the inadequacy and inconsistency of the records being kept by public authorities regarding the use of these powers is woefully inadequate. New laws would not be required to correct this.

Whilst this report concentrates on targeting journalists, it is important to remember that thousands of members of the public have also been snooped on, with little opportunity for redress. If the police fail to use the existing powers correctly then it is completely irresponsible for the Home Office to be planning on increasing those powers.

Failure by the Government to address these serious points means we can already know that there will be many more innocent members of the public who will be wrongly spied on and accused. This is intolerable.

 

 

MPs Confused about Facebook Privacy...

Earlier MPs claimed that Facebook isn't doing enough to snoop on users. Now MPs say Facebook is doing too much to use private data without adequate permission


Link Here29th November 2014
MPs on the Science and Technology select committee have called for the Government to draw up new guidelines for websites and apps explaining clearly how they use personal data, warning that laws will be needed if companies fail to comply.

Facebook can gain direct access to a person's mobile and take pictures or make videos at any time without explicit consent, MPs warn as they call on social media companies to simplify their terms and conditions.

The MP said that they should simplify the conditions of using their services, which are designed for US courts, because they are so impenetrable that no reasonable person can be expected to understand them.

The MPs on the Science and Technology select committee called for the Government to draw up new guidelines for websites and apps explaining clearly how they use personal data, warning that laws will be needed if companies fail to comply.

The committee highlighted terms for Facebook Messenger's mobile app, used by more than 200,000 million people a month, that means it can gain direct access to a mobile or tablet, including to take pictures or make videos, at any time without explicit confirmation from the owner.

 

 

Updated: Less Consumer Rights Bill...

Elspeth Howe re-introduces her repressive clause to require onerous age verification for adult content on the internet


Link Here27th November 2014
The Consumer Rights Bill is progressing through Parliament is currently at the report stage in the house of Lords. It will next be debated on 24th November.

Elspeth Howe has again proposed her clause requiring age verification for adult content. It has been kicked out several times in the past as the government recognises the need to work with the telecoms industry rather than impose onerous new laws (of course the government hasn't shown the same pragmatic approach to the adult internet industry).

The new clause was proposed by Baroness Elspeth Howe, Baroness King, Lord Cormack and Baroness Floella Benjamin. It is titled amendment 50D.

"Duty to provide an internet service that protects children from digital content

(1)     Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(2)     Where mobile telephone operators provide a telephone service to subscribers which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes adult content unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.

(3)     The conditions are--

(a)   the subscriber "opts-in" to subscribe to a service that includes adult content;

(b)   the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and

(c)   the provider of the service has an age verification policy which meets the standards set out by OFCOM in subsection (4) and which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over before a user is able to access adult content.

(4)     It shall be the duty of OFCOM, to set, and from time to time to review and revise, standards for the--

(a)   filtering of adult content in line with the standards set out in section 319 of the Communications Act 2003 (OFCOM's standards code);

(b)   age verification policies to be used under subsection (3) before a user is able to access adult content; and

(c)   filtering of content by age or subject category by providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators.

(5)     The standards set out by OFCOM under subsection (4) must be contained in one or more codes.

(6)     Before setting standards under subsection (5), OFCOM must publish, in such a manner as they think fit, a draft of the proposed code containing those standards.

(7)     After publishing the draft code and before setting the standards, OFCOM must consult relevant persons and organisations.

(8)     It shall be the duty of OFCOM to establish procedures for the handling and resolution of complaints in a timely manner about the observance of standards set under subsection (4), including complaints about incorrect filtering of content.

(9)     OFCOM may designate any body corporate to carry out its duties under this section in whole or in part.

(10)     OFCOM may not designate a body under subsection (9) unless, as respects that designation, they are satisfied that the body--

(a)   is a fit and proper body to be designated;

(b)   has consented to being designated;

(c)   has access to financial resources that are adequate to ensure the effective performance of its functions under this section; and

(d)   is sufficiently independent of providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators.

(11)     In this section, internet service providers and mobile telephone operators shall at all times be held harmless of any claims or proceedings, whether civil or criminal, providing that at the relevant time, the internet access provider or the mobile telephone operator--

(a)   was following the standards and code set out by OFCOM in subsection (4); and

(b)   acting in good faith.

(12)     For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in subsections (1) and (2) prevents providers of internet access services and mobile phone operators from providing additional levels of filtering content.

(13)     In this section--

"adult content" means an internet access service that contains harmful and offensive materials from which persons under the age of eighteen are protected;

"harmful and offensive materials" has the same meaning as in section 3 of the Communications Act 2003 (general duties of OFCOM);

"material from which persons under the age of eighteen are protected" means material specified in the OFCOM standards under section 319(2)(a) of the Communications Act 2003 (OFCOM's standards code);

"opts-in" means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes adult content."

Update: Howe's amendment thrown out

27th November 2014. See  article from  parliament.uk . Thanks to Therumbler

Elspeth Howe's new clause was defeated by  124 votes to 64. Labour supported the bill, while most, but not all, Tories and LibDems opposed it.

 

 

Out of Order...

John O'Farrell on why we should be allowed to use parliamentary footage for parody.


Link Here27th November 2014
There are strict censorship guidelines on how broadcasters can, and cannot, use Parliamentary footage to reflect what goes on in the Commons and the Lords.

News programmes, such as the Daily Politics , may use clips under certain conditions, but these rules also ban the likes of Have I Got News for You and entertainment programmes from using them to mock Parliamentarians and Westminster life.

In a personal film, the writer and former Labour Parliamentary candidate John O'Farrell explained why he is not impressed with the rules, and why he thinks they need to be changed.

O'Farrell debated this on Thursday's Daily Politics on BBC2. See programme on iPlayer

 

 

Offsite Article: The war on Facebook...


Link Here27th November 2014
MPs rebuke Facebook for failure to act on online activities of Lee Rigby's murderer

See article from independent.co.uk

 

 

Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2013 - 15...

The extension of the Dangerous Pictures Act to cover rape porn nears completion


Link Here23rd November 2014
The new clause extending the Dangerous Pictures Act to cover rape porn has passed through the House of Lords. The next step is the Ping Pong stage where the House of Commons debates House of Lords amendments which do not effect the Dangerous Pictures clauses. This stage will occur on 1st December 2014.

The existing Dangerous Pictures Act may be summarised:

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Section 63 Possession of extreme pornographic images:

It is an offence for a person to be in possession of an extreme pornographic image.

An extreme pornographic image is an image which meets all of the following three definitions

  1. is pornographic , ie it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
     
  2. is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
     
  3. it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, any of the following---
  • (a) an act which threatens a person's life,
  • (b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person's anus, breasts or genitals,
  • (c) an act which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or
  • (d) a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive), and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person or animal was real.

The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will extend the list. The list of image types above, ie life threatening act, serious injury, necrophilia, or bestiality is extended by:

37 Possession of pornographic images of rape and assault by penetration

(7A) An image falls within this subsection if it portrays, in an explicit and realistic way, either of the following---

(a) an act which involves the non-consensual penetration of a person's vagina, anus or mouth by another with the other person's penis, or

(b) an act which involves the non-consensual sexual penetration of a person's vagina or anus by another with a part of the other person's body or anything else,

and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that 30the persons were real.

(7B) For the purposes of subsection (7A)---

(a) penetration is a continuing act from entry to withdrawal;

(b) vagina includes vulva.

The new clause will apply only in England and Wales. Scotland has its own version of the Dangerous Pictures Act that already includes rape porn. Northern Ireland seems to have been omitted, maybe it will enact its own version later.

 

 

Update: Safety First...

John McDonnell MP makes a robust and constructive House of Commons speech against the criminalisation of people buying sex


Link Here10th November 2014
Last week there was a parliamentary debate where Labour amendments to criminalise people who buy sex were dropped. A Labour MP, John McDonnell made a fine contribution that is well worth recording for posterity on Melon Farmers.

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): To turn briefly to the new clauses and the amendment tabled in relation to prostitution, I apologise to all Members of the House for inundating them with briefings over the past 48 hours. I am very sorry, but this debate came up in a hurry, and it was important to give people the chance to express their views. I have always respected my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), who is very well intentioned. I support new clause 7 because developing a strategy is critical, and amendment 1, which is the decriminalisation amendment, but I am fundamentally opposed to new clause 6, because it is worrying, counter-productive and dangerous. New clause 22 would give us the opportunity and enough time to undertake a proper review.

I know that sex work is abhorrent for some Members. I must say that in the years since I convened some of the first meetings of the Ipswich Safety First campaign in this House, after five women were killed there, I have met a number of men and women who were not coerced into sex work and do not want their livelihoods to be curtailed by the proposed criminalisation of their clients. It is true that I have met many others who entered prostitution to overcome economic disadvantage---they suffered in poverty to enable them to pay the rent and put food on the table for their children---but that has been made worse by welfare benefit cuts, escalating housing costs and energy bills. The answer is not to criminalise any of their activities, but to tackle the underlying cause by not cutting welfare benefits and ensuring people have an affordable roof over their heads and giving them access to decent, paid employment.

The whole issue has focused on the idea that by stopping the supply of clients, prostitution will somehow disappear, as will all the exploitation, trafficking and violent abuse. The Swedish model has been suggested as an example, but there was absolutely overwhelming opposition to it in the briefings that I have circulated. Those briefings have come from charities such as Scot-Pep---the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project---which is funded by the state; the Royal College of Nursing, the nurses themselves; and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects, which is another Government-funded organisation to get women and others off the game, that nevertheless says that the Swedish model would be counter-productive.

The Home Office has commissioned academic research, and I have circulated a letter from 30 academics from universities around the country that basically says that the proposed legislation is dangerous. We must listen to sex workers: the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open University, the Harlots collective, the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe---flamboyant names, but they represent sex workers, and all are opposed to the criminalisation of clients.

Michael Connarty: Could my hon. Friend quote some sources from Sweden? I understand that in Sweden they do not take that view.

John McDonnell: I will come straight to that point, but let me go through the other organisations we have listened to: lawyers, human rights bodies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and UN Aid, and even the women's institute down in Hampshire---I warn hon. Members never to cross the women's institute anywhere---as well as members of the Ipswich Safety First coalition who dealt with the deaths those years ago.

What is the consensus? It is that there is no evidence that criminalising clients as in the Swedish legislation reduces the number of either clients or sex workers. I could quote at length---time we have not got---from the Swedish Government's report that demonstrates that there is no correlation between the legislation they introduced and a reduction in numbers of clients or sex workers.

Fiona Mactaggart: My hon. Friend said that the Swedish Government have no evidence for that, which is true, but they did have evidence that the number of men who pay for sex in Sweden has gone down significantly.

John McDonnell: That was one survey where men who were asked, Do you pay for sex, because you could be prosecuted for it? naturally said no. The evidence has been challenged. The other part of the consensus concerns the argument that other Governments are now acting and following the Swedish model, but South Africa has rejected it, and Scotland rejected it because measures on kerb crawling were introduced. In France, the Senate has rejected that model on the basis that sex workers will be put at risk. There are even threats of legal action in Canada on the issue of the safety and security of sex workers.

The other consensus that has come from these organisations is that not only do such measures not work, they actually cause harm. We know that because we undertook research through the Home Office in 2005-06. What did it say? Sex workers themselves were saying, It means that we never have time to check out the clients in advance. We are rushed and pushed to the margins of society as a result, which does us harm.

There are alternatives. I do not recognise the view on the implementation of decriminalisation in New Zealand mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Slough, because all the research says that it is working. Who says that we should look at decriminalisation? The World Health Organisation, UN Women and UNAIDS. I circulated a letter from Nigel Richardson, who is not just a lawyer who represents sex workers but also acts as a judge. He says that we can tackle abuse and sexual exploitation with existing laws.

I appeal to the House not to rush to legislate on such a contested issue where there is such conflicting research, evidence and views. New clause 22 would provide a way through as it would enable us to undertake the necessary research, consult, bring forward proposals, and legislate if necessary. I want to include in that consultation the New Zealand model and full decriminalisation. I am not in favour of legalisation; I am in favour of full decriminalisation. On that basis we should listen to those with experience. I convened some meetings with the Safety First coalition to brief Members on what it had done. It invested money in the individuals---£7,000 a prostitute---and it got people out of prostitution by investing money, not by decriminalising them.

Reverend Andrew Dotchin was a founder member of the Safety First coalition. He states:

I strongly oppose clauses on prostitution in the Modern Slavery Bill, which would make the purchase of sex illegal. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for women.

I fully support the Reverend Andrew Dotchin in his views.

 

 

Nobody gives a fuck...

Chief TV censor explains to parliamentary committee that TV viewers are no longer wound up by strong language


Link Here8th November 2014
Ed Richards, chief executive of the TV censor Ofcom was called to give evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee. He outlined findings published earlier this year by Ofcom saying that TV viewers have become more tolerant of violence and swearing. But that sexist or racist language of the 1970s is far less acceptable than it once was.

Richards, who is about to stand down after 11 years in the job, told MPs there has been a big change in tolerance levels in the past few decades. According to the Ofcom's latest research, published in July, only 35% of viewers think there is too much violence on TV, down from 55% in 2008. Just 35% think there is too much swearing, down from 53% six years ago, while 26% believe there is too much sex, a slight rise from 25%. Richards told MPs:

People are more tolerant of a degree of violence than they were. They are much more tolerant of certain forms of swearing than they were. There are still some words, very few to be honest, but still some words which are off limits or only in certain circumstances.

They are much less tolerant, interestingly enough, of language which is regarded as discriminatory or unfair or unjust towards people. That's a big change if you think of the Seventies and some of the programmes which went out then. The public just do not want to see that any more.

One of the MPs who quizzed Mr Richards, former Labour Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, said he felt UK broadcasters are now too intolerant of nudity while being willing to accept violence and sex on screen. However, Richards denied that British television has become more prudish about nudity and was importing American values and morality .

Vivienne Pattison, the director of moralist campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said that if it was true that viewers were less concerned by bad language but ludicrously claimed it was simply because they had become desensitised to it.

What she really means is that as viewers experience material, they are better able to come to their own conclusions and put it all in perspective. And the more they are given chance to have their own reasoned opinions, the less likely they are to agree with Pattison's simplistic nonsense.

 

 

Offsite Article: Listen to sex workers...


Link Here7th November 2014
we can explain what decriminalisation would mean If progress is to be made now an amendment to the modern slavery bill has been defeated, MPs must invite us into the discussion

See article from theguardian.com

 

 

Updated: Parliamentary amendment to criminalise the buying of sex...

Another people hating plan by Labour to jail innocent men and ruin their lives


Link Here 6th November 2014
This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net ) have prepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims to criminalise sex workers' clients.

Please send your objections (model letter below) to the clause as soon as possible. It will be discussed next Tuesday 4 November in the Report Stage of the Bill. Please send letters to the Chair of the Modern Slavery Bill Committee   Frank Field MP the rest of the committee and to  John McDonnell MP .

Briefing against clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services.

An amendment and two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP aim to make the purchase of sex illegal, remove the criminal sanctions against prostituted women and provide support to women who want to leave prostitution .

We support the amendment which would remove the offence of loitering and soliciting for women working on the street . This decriminalisation should be extended to sex workers working from premises. The brothel-keeping legislation should be amended so that women can work more safely together. In 2006, the Home Office acknowledged: . . . the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone.

We strongly oppose the clauses criminalising clients , on the basis of women's safety. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for women.

Any benefit from decriminalising loitering and soliciting will be cancelled if clients are criminalised. Women will have to go underground if clients are underground. Kerb-crawling legislation has already made it more dangerous for prostitute women and men. In Scotland, since kerb-crawling legislation was introduced in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers have soared. Attacks reported to one project almost doubled in one year from 66 to 126.

Many of the claims that have been made about the impact of the 1999 Swedish law which criminalised clients are false and have no evidential basis.

  1. The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.

  2. The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.

  3. Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).

  4. Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.

  5. The criminalisation of clients increases women's vulnerability to violence.

  6. The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.

  7. Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.

  8. An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.

  9. Racist implementation

  10. The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?

  11. The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety

  12. The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland [31] and in France.

...Read the full article

Update: The sex workers lobby

4th November 2014. See  article from  morningstaronline.co.uk

Sex workers and campaigners joined forces in the House of Commons to lobby against sections of new Bill which would criminalise clients.

Members of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) argued that some clauses of the Modern Slavery Bill could increase the dangers faced by sex workers. ECP spokeswoman Niki Adams said:

We strongly oppose the criminalisation of clients, on the basis of women's safety. Despite claims that loitering and soliciting may be decriminalised, this will have little effect if clients are criminalised.

Prostitution will be pushed further underground, disrupting informal security systems among women on the street and displacing women into remote areas.

Offering solidarity at the event were members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos said:

It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to criminalise individuals who are consenting adults having sex.

On health alone it is not sensible to criminalise people because it changes their behaviour and puts them at risk.

Update: Amendment withdrawn

4th November 2014. See parliamentary debate transcription from publications.parliament.uk

Fiona Taggart's amendment to criminalise the buying of sex was withdrawn without a vote.

The government and many MPs didn't seem to have an appetite to include controversial elements to a bill seemingly enjoying the support of most MPs. The only debate was that Labour wanted to go further than the Tories in measures against the wider remit of trafficking.

As soon as the topic of prostitution was raised it was clearly that some sort of decision had already being taken. An amendment was proposed that would require the government to review prostitution policy. It seemed widely accepted that far reaching changes of policy on prostitution would be better addressed with some sort of formal reviews being undertaken first. Even Fiona Taggart seemed to concur that it would be better to go this route rather than suddenly declaring large numbers of men to be criminals. So her amendment did not proceed after these comments and was presumably withdrawn.

But the Taggart's speech triggered a few strong pro and anti speeches that gave a flavour of the controversy the government seemed keen to avoid.

The amendment to require the review was defeated in a vote. However it did seem to reflect an approach that went down well with MPs. The timing of being at the end of the 5 year term of this parliament seemed to make it all a bit doubtful for the moment...but the idea has been implanted for the future.

Update: The sex workers are unsurprisingly well pleased

6th November 2014. See  article from  prostitutescollective.net

We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.

This is a massive victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short notice, drew a good crowd. The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps, queers and anti-racists opposed to this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.

MP John McDonnell's contribution to the debate in the Commons today was outstanding -- we have been worked closely with him over many years, including on defeating this measure. He made reference to the wide range of opposition, quoting from some of the many briefings and letters people had sent him, and countered the false claims put forward by those promoting criminalisation.

As a result of so many people acting so quickly and so effectively we are now in a stronger position to demand full decriminalisation.

 

 

Update: Paying to get screwed by the authorities...

How Northern Ireland politician passed yet another law that will be used to persecute innocent people, this time ordinary people who just want to get laid


Link Here28th October 2014

In an unusual coalition, the two main opposing parties of Northern Irish politics have joined forces to pass new legislation on human trafficking, with the result that clients of sex workers will now be criminalised in Northern Ireland. Until just before the late-night vote on Tuesday 21st October, it was unclear how Sinn Fein (the republican party, active in both Northern and the Republic of Ireland) would vote, and the bill was complex, with over 60 amendments. Clause 6 of the proposed Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) bill contains the provision to criminalise clients of sex workers. It is already an offence to purchase sex from a trafficked person in Northern Ireland.

Lord Morrow, a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) tabled this private members bill, which was opposed by the Justice Minister, David Ford on the basis that it did not adequately address consensual sex work. An in-depth piece of research, commissioned by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, was released in the days preceeding the vote, but despite its clear and decisive conclusions, 81 MLAs voted for Clause 6 (10 voted against). The Committee for Justice advising on the bill also visited Sweden to gain information about the Swedish Model of criminalisation of clients, and heard evidence of a trafficking victim in an informal meeting.

The research from Queen's University depicts a small but active sex work community in Northern Ireland, with an estimate of 350 sex workers active in the country per day, 20 of whom work outdoors. The report suggests that trafficking victims account for less than 3% of that number, fewer than 10 people. More than a third of clients surveyed believed that paying for sex was already illegal. Of the 171 sex workers questioned, less than 2% supported criminalisation of clients, 61% saying that it would make them less safe.

Northern Ireland has a population of around 1.8 million people, but the research noted that both clients and sex workers were highly mobile, and frequently borders were crossed both to the Republic of Ireland and other countries in Europe to engage in sex work.

Speaking to the BBC , one NI MLA explained that the law would be enforced using online surveillance, since according to him, people pay for sexual services using credit cards. The Police Service of Northern Ireland have so far refused to comment on how the legislation would be enforced, but sex workers are widely known to rarely accept online or credit card payment, partly because of the need for discretion, and partly since few third party payment providers will allow transactions of an adult nature. 

Dr Jay Levy, author of " Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden ", an in-depth analysis of 4 years of fieldwork on the subject, commented on the use of the Swedish model in Northern Ireland: "There is no evidence that levels of trafficking (or sex work) have declined since the criminalisation of the purchase of sex was introduced in Sweden in 1999, and the law has exacerbated danger and difficulties for sex workers. Northern Ireland's stating that this law will be used to target and reduce trafficking is nonsensical, given that there is no empirical data whatsoever to suggest it will have this effect, and given that the law is of great harm to sex workers'wellbeing and safety."

In France, politicians voted to criminalise clients, but the bill was struck down in July by the French Senate Select Committee. A bill to criminalise clients of sex workers was similarly considered in Scotland in 2013, but did not pass. The Northern Irish bill will also have to pass 3 further stages before becoming active legislation.

In November, MPs in England are scheduled to vote on an amendment to the Modern Slavery Act which would similarly criminalise clients of sex workers. An All Party Parliamentary Group was convened last year to consider the evidence regarding suitable legal provision for sex work. 

 

 

Towards Safer Sex Work...

The motion that the LibDems agreed to at the 2014 conference


Link Here26th October 2014

This motion updates and develops existing policy as set out in policy paper 3, Confronting Prostitution (1994). In particular it develops policy on the 'Merseyside model' in which crimes against sex workers are treated as hate crimes and rejects the 'Nordic model' of decriminalising sex workers but criminalising clients.

Towards Safer Sex Work

(Passed with no Amendments)

Conference notes that:

  • I. 'Sex work' encompasses a broad span of commercial activity that includes phone-line operators, webcam broadcasters, actors in the adult entertainment industry, escorts, and indoor as well as outdoor sex workers.

  • II. Prostitution in itself is legal but many of the related activities, such as solicitation and brothel keeping, are criminalised.

  • III. The decriminalisation of sex work has been Liberal Democrat policy since the 1994 publication of policy paper 3, Confronting Prostitution.

  • IV. Sex workers are comprised of people in a variety of economic situations or from marginalised groups, including single mothers, students, men who have sex with men, and transgender people saving so they can access adequate medical care.

  • V. Many sex workers engage in the trade of their own volition without economic coercion, often as a way to ensure financial stability and even wealth completely on their own terms.

  • VI. Peer-reviewed high quality academic research, along with senior medical practitioners in the delivery of NHS sexual health services, provide strong evidence for decriminalisation.

  • VII. States such as New Zealand have moved to a policy of decriminalisation of sex work with success in terms of the safety of sex workers where it has reduced cases of violence against sex workers.

  • VIII. Sex workers in New Zealand are allowed to work together and organise themselves in the way they see fit, can protect their safety much better, have more trust and a better relationship with the police which is more conducive to detecting and punishing abuses.

  • IX. In England, the 'Merseyside Model' which treats violence against sex workers as a hate crime, has been implemented in several major cities, most notably Liverpool.

  • X. Amnesty International, from early 2014, engaged in a global consultation on sex work with a draft policy recommending decriminalisation, and at Amnesty's UK annual general meeting, a motion in support of decriminalisation of sex work was 'comfortably' carried.

Conference welcomes the work of Liberal Democrats, in particular:

1. The 2011 Home Office Review of Effective Practice in Responding to Prostitution, signed by Lynne Featherstone MP as an Equalities Minister, which argued for:

  • a) Safety to be made an overriding priority.

  • b) Translation services, ESL courses, and other language support for migrant sex workers.

  • c) Violence against sex workers to be treated as a hate crime.

  • d) A focus of resources against the grooming of young women in care homes.

2. The announcement in 2011 by Lynne Featherstone MP of a £100,000 grant towards piloting an 'Ugly Mugs' scheme aimed at protecting sex workers, in conjunction with the UK Network of Sex Projects.

3. Prior to being a governing party, the opposition by Liberal Democrat MPs to provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 aimed towards criminalising some aspects of sex work and working conditions brought forward by a majority Labour government.
Conference expresses concern that:

  • i) Laws regarding solicitation and loitering force sex workers into isolated areas where they are at more danger of sexual and physical violence.

  • ii) Laws prohibiting brothel-keeping prevent sex workers from working out of the same premises to ensure their own safety.

  • iii) Raids of saunas in Edinburgh and London were orchestrated with publicity in mind - including inviting the press to the raids in Soho in December 2013 - rather than for the welfare and privacy of the women in sex work.

  • iv) Studies promoting the criminalisation of clients or 'demand' often conflate legal migrants of an ethnic minority background with trafficked women in a way that is tantamount to racism.

  • v) Approaches which criminalise the purchase of sexual services but not, overtly, the workers themselves, criminalise otherwise law abiding people and divert criminal justice resources away from serious harms in society, including young people in care homes at risk of grooming, victims of trafficking, and migrant workers in domestic - and sometimes sexual - servitude.

  • vi) The enforcement of the above approach in the 'Nordic' approach in Scandinavian countries had no appreciable effect in preventing violence against women or poverty, and has reduced negotiating power that street workers previously had.

  • vii) Just as the criminalisation of homosexuality and abortion leads to unsafe practices regarding LGBT and women's healthcare respectively, criminalisation of sex work leads to unsafe sexual health practices.

  • viii) Immigration status, and not the welfare of women suspected of being trafficked, is currently a priority within police forces.

  • ix) Sex workers invariably fear state violence and police brutality more than they fear violence from people masquerading as clients, or from members of the public.

Conference believes that:

  • A. Laws against rape and sexual violence need to be strongly enforced, especially against people suspected of trafficking others.

  • B. There should be no bar towards consensual sexual activities between any number of adults.

  • C. Every person has a right to bodily autonomy, and it is not for the State to decide what a they can or cannot do with their body, including engage in sex work if they so choose.

  • D. The abolition of sex work is not practically feasible without fully eradicating circumstances related to economic hardship, and cannot be sought through any prohibition on consensual sex work.

  • E. Decriminalisation of sex work would help engender better working conditions and sexual health practices among workers.

  • F. Decriminalisation would also help foster a positive culture where the importance of informed and enthusiastic consent is paramount.

  • G. It is our responsibility as liberals to ensure that the most disadvantaged people in society are fought for just as hard as the least, and it is key that we should sometimes just amplify their voices instead of offering our own.

Conference calls for:

  1. Continued support the principles in policy paper 3 and the establishment of a Working Group to prepare an updated version of the policy paper that deals with the issue of sex work in the 21st Century.

  2. In the interim, opposition to any steps to implement the Nordic model and reaffirmation of our support for decriminalisation of sex work, protections for survivors of violence against women, and the promotion of safer sexual health practices and better sex and relationship ethics, including in all tiers of the education system.

  3. The 'Merseyside model', in which crimes against sex workers are treated as hate crimes, to be rolled out nationwide.

  4. The promotion of solutions to the problem of international trafficking and forced prostitution that do not endanger the lives of sex workers.

  5. Work to be taken in conjunction with sex worker organisations to ensure the safety of workers, including reintroducing the Ugly Mugs scheme on a more permanent basis.

  6. For our commitment for strong social and community safety nets to be reaffirmed, so that no person should be pressured to enter or be afraid to exit sex work at any time.

Applicability: England and Wales, except educational aspects of 'Conference calls for' 2 (lines 104-108) which are England only.

 

 

Update: Reasons to vote UKIP: Yvette Cooper...

Labour plans to criminalise buying sex


Link Here25th October 2014
A Labour government would criminalise people who buy sex, if elected.

PC extremist Yvette Cooper was weighing up announcing in her party conference speech that if she became Home Secretary she would make buying sex illegal.

In the end the proposal was cut from the final draft for the speech, but surely not from Labour's plans.

 

 

Updated: Is it all politicians can do, dream up new ways to imprison angry people?...

House of Lords passes new law to ban revenge porn


Link Here 23rd October 2014
Full story: Revenge Porn in the UK...Government introduce new law
The House of Lords has agreed unanimously to make revenge porn a criminal offence in England and Wales.

The sharing of a private sexual image of someone without their consent and to cause distress will be punishable by up to two years in prison, Justice Minister Lord Faulks said. The change to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill covers sharing of physical and online copies, and text messages.

MPs must approve the plans before they can become law.

Faulks said the disclosure of revenge porn was extremely distressing and left victims feeling humiliated and distraught . A new offence was needed to punish this pernicious practice and provide an important means of redress for victims of this cruel behaviour .

If passed into law, the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill will define revenge porn as photographs or films which show people engaged in sexual activity or depicted in a sexual way or with their genitals exposed, where what is shown would not usually be seen in public .

Update: Vengeful Scotland

23rd October 2014. See  article from  scotsman.com

The Scottish Government's has announced that it is actively exploring the creation of a new law to tackle the growth of so-called revenge pornography.

The Scottish Government said yesterday that existing laws could be used to prosecute offenders, but the fact that new legislation is in the pipeline is recognition that a bespoke law is required.

 

 

Updated: Seeking Consent of Parliament...

Government publishes the details of its new law targeting revenge porn


Link Here15th October 2014
Full story: Revenge porn in the UK...UK government considers legislation
The government has published the details of a new law targeting revenge porn:

Publication of private sexual images

(1) It shall be an offence for a person to publish a private sexual image of another identifiable person without their consent where this disclosure  causes distress to the person who is the subject of the image.

(2) A person is not guilty of an offence under subsection (1) if he or she-—

(a) reasonably believed that the person who is the subject of the image had consented to its publication;

(b) reasonably believed that the publication of the image would not cause distress;

(c) reasonably believed that the image had previously been published; or

(d) did not intend to publish the image.

(3) For the purposes of this section it is immaterial who owns the copyright of the published image.

(4) An offence under this section is punishable by—

(a) on conviction on indictment, imprisonment for a term of not exceeding 2 years or a fine (or both);

(b) on summary conviction, imprisonment for a term of not exceeding 6 months or a fine (or both).

Update: Unintelligible law

14th October 2014. See article from publications.parliament.uk . Thanks to Therumbler

Seems to be a disgraceful government proposed amendment to turn the law into gobbledegook where people will be found guilty whatever the circumstances, whilst journalists seem to have been excused any responsibility whatever the circumstances.

Disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress

(1) It is an offence for a person to disclose a private sexual photograph or film if the disclosure is made---

  • (a) without the consent of an individual who appears in the photograph or film, and

  • (b) with the intention of causing that individual distress.

(2) But it is not an offence for the person to disclose the photograph or film to the individual mentioned in subsection (1)(a) and (b).

(3) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that he or she reasonably believed that the disclosure was necessary for the purposes of preventing, detecting or investigating crime.

(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to show that---

  • (a) the disclosure was made in the course of, or with a view to, the publication of journalistic material, and

  • (b) he or she reasonably believed that, in the particular circumstances, the publication of the journalistic material was, or would be, in the public interest.

(5) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to show that---

  • (a) he or she reasonably believed that the photograph or film had previously been disclosed for reward, whether by the individual mentioned in subsection (1)(a) and (b) or another person, and

  • (b) he or she had no reason to believe that the previous disclosure for reward was made without the consent of the individual mentioned in subsection (1)(a) and (b).

(6) A person is taken to have shown the matters mentioned in subsection (4) or (5) if---

  • (a) sufficient evidence of the matters is adduced to raise an issue with respect to it, and

  • (b) the contrary is not proved beyond reasonable doubt.

(7) For the purposes of subsections (1) to (5)---

  • (a) consent to a disclosure includes general consent covering the disclosure, as well as consent to the particular disclosure, and

  • (b) publication of journalistic material means disclosure to the public.

(8) A person charged with an offence under this section is not to be taken to have disclosed a photograph or film with the intention of causing distress merely because that was a natural and probable consequence of the disclosure.

(9) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable---

  • (a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or a fine (or both), and

  • (b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or a fine (or both).

(10) Schedule (Disclosing private sexual photographs or films: providers of information society services) makes special provision in connection with the operation of this section in relation to persons providing information society services.

(11) In relation to an offence committed before section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 comes into force, the reference in subsection (9)(b) to 12 months is to be read as a reference to 6 months.

(12) In relation to an offence committed before section 85 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 comes into force, the reference in subsection (9)(b) to a fine is to be read as a reference to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.

Meaning of disclose and photograph or film

(1) The following apply for the purposes of section (Disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress), this section and section (Meaning of private and sexual).

(2) A person discloses something to a person if, by any means, he or she gives or shows it to the person or makes it available to the person.

(3) Something that is given, shown or made available to a person is disclosed---

  • (a) whether or not it is given, shown or made available for reward, and

  • (b) whether or not it has previously been given, shown or made available to the person.

(4) Photograph or film means a still or moving image in any form that---

  • (a) appears to consist of or include one or more photographed or filmed images, and

  • (b) in fact consists of or includes one or more photographed or filmed images.

(5) The reference in subsection (4)(b) to photographed or filmed images includes photographed or filmed images that have been altered in any way.

(6) Photographed or filmed image means a still or moving image that---

  • (a) was originally captured by photography or filming, or

  • (b) is part of an image originally captured by photography or filming.

(7) Filming means making a recording, on any medium, from which a moving image may be produced by any means.

(8) References to a photograph or film include---

  • (a) a negative version of an image described in subsection (4), and

  • (b) data stored by any means which is capable of conversion into an image described in subsection (4).

Meaning of private and sexual

(1) The following apply for the purposes of section (Disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress).

(2) A photograph or film is private if it shows something that is not of a kind ordinarily seen in public.

(3) A photograph or film is sexual if---

  • (a) it shows all or part of an individual's exposed genitals or pubic area,

  • (b) it shows something that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual because of its nature, or

  • (c) its content, taken as a whole, is such that a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual.

(4) Subsection (5) applies in the case of ---

  • (a) a photograph or film that consists of or includes a photographed or filmed image that has been altered in any way,

  • (b) a photograph or film that combines two or more photographed or filmed images, and

  • (c) a photograph or film that combines a photographed or filmed image with something else.

(5) The photograph or film is not private and sexual if---

  • (a) it does not consist of or include a photographed or filmed image that is itself private and sexual,

  • (b) it is only private or sexual by virtue of the alteration or combination mentioned in subsection (4), or

  • (c) it is only by virtue of the alteration or combination mentioned in subsection (4) that the person mentioned in section (Disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress)(1)(a) and (b) is shown as part of, or with, whatever makes the photograph or film private and sexual.

 

 

The Sexual Freedom Party...

Charlotte Rose is standing for sexual freedom at the Clacton By-election on 9th October 2014.


Link Here9th October 2014

Charlotte Rose is standing as a  Sexual Freedom party candidate at the Clacton by-elections on 9th October 2014.

Sexual Freedom Party Manifesto 2014
 

What we stand for

  • - Freedom from sexual ignorance due to poor, or denial of, sex education

  • - Freedom from control by others

  • - Freedom from governmental control

We stand for knowledge, tolerance and respect, whatever a person's ability, preferences, identity, orientation, or job, so long as neither abuse or unwanted control is involved.

Why constituents might vote for us

We alone cover one aspect of life which people really care about: sex. Sex is the second biggest human drive, after survival, and yet it is ignored in politics. Most politicians pretend it is not important, and simply promote family values.

What we bring

Having a Sexual Freedom Party politician in the House of Commons will help towards the sex and relationship wellbeing of British citizens.

The Sexual Freedom Party will bring a new awareness to Parliament and society and work towards ridding this country of the stigma and bigotry which prevents some of our citizens from being sexually free. We will be doing this in these eight pressing areas:

  • Disabled people and older people in care need to be free to enjoy the same pleasures as everybody else enjoys in the privacy of their own homes. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 makes this law, but it is rarely adhered to in practice.

  • People with sexual diversities still live restricted lives, for fear of stigma. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people have achieved some social acceptance but this does not often extend to situations like visiting the doctor or going into hospital, where stigma exists, and gay people actually avoid going asa result! There is still little acceptance of people into BDSM (bondage, domination sado-masochism), fetishism, swinging, dogging, and polyamory.

  • Those who provide sexual services are currently forbidden by law to work together, which limits their capacity and renders their working lives unsafe. No other profession is limited in this way. So long as no control is involved, sex workers should be free to work in pairs or groups, or as a community.

  • Striptease artists and sex workers are being targetted by religious and anti-sex feminists. They claim that sex work is violence to women, yet do not listen to the strippers and sex workers themselves. The professional ones actually claim they like their work and are in charge of what they do. Striptease establishments are being unnecessarily closed down around the country, and sex workers demonised. In fact, striptease is a delightful, aspirational form of entertainment, and sex workers provide pleasure, teaching, necessary human contact and satisfaction for millions of men and women across the country.

  • FGM Female Genital Mutilation -- thousands of young girls and women in this country are forced to have their genitals mutilated: the clitoris and labia are cut off, so that they experience pain instead of pleasure, Sometimes the vagina is sewn up so that entry is so restricted that the man can only masturbate on her in order to impregnate her! FGM is illegal but only one prosecution has been made* since the law was passed over 25 years ago, and nothing really effective is being done because of "cultural sensitivity".

  • Grooming of young girls -- the recent scandal in Rotherham of muslim gangs grooming and raping young girls, was covered up for 14 years. Those trying to expose it were ignored by the press and authorities, which demonstrates the ignorance and the PC cultural sensitivity of our government.

  • Forced marriage -- also ignored thanks to PC cultural sensitivity, where situations such as a young, learning disabled person being forced to marry a relative abroad in order for the spouse to live in the UK. Then they are encouraged to produce a large inbred family, with perhaps more disabled children. This is illegal under the Forced Marriages Act 2008, and Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011

but the laws are rarely enforced and do not go far enough.

Sex and Relationship Education (SRE)

SRE could do much to improve the sexual wellbeing of British citizens. This sex education needs to include everything mentioned above, i.e. sex and disability, all sexual diversities, striptease and sexual services and practices which threaten personal freedom.

Many brilliant campaigns have failed to get anywhere, and still schools are not obliged to teach SRE, and parents can ban their children from classes in school, so children are growing up in the 21st century, without sexual health knowledge, and often without the skills to enjoy a happy sex life.

Campaigns against porn use the argument that porn teaches people inaccurate information which corrupts their minds. This misses the point that porn is about fantasy. What young people need is education on reality. Sex education is necessary to prepare young people to look at porn. For example, in porn, anal sex looks as easy as vaginal sex but anal sex requires the recipient to open up, otherwise it is very painful and can be damaging. Many young porn viewers without this education are currently experiencing such difficulties.

Considering the above, the level and quality of sex education required is much higher than the "school nurse" or biology teacher is likely to deliver. Experts need to be brought in. A disabled man**, just out of school, declared that the best people to be teaching sex in schools are sex workers, as only they really know the full extent of human sexual needs and practice.

SRE needs to give people the confidence to enjoy the sex they want without being controlled or stifled. Some women, disabled people and shy people may need more support and there are experts out there who offer appropriate services. Sadly they mostly work underground and are largely unsupported.

Allies:


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