EDINBURGH, Scotland - A new Scottish anti-porn bill is being slammed from hill to glen by opponents as more severe than similar English legislation.
S34 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill was published last week and met with a roar of disapproval.
Like its English cousin, the legislation attacks violent or "extreme" adult content including images of life-threatening acts, non-consensual sex, bestiality and necrophilia. The new laws in England, Wales and Northern Ireland forbid possession of pictures showing damage to genitals and other body parts.
Under section 51 of Scotland's Civic Government Act 1982, it is already illegal to publish, to sell or distribute or to possess with a view to selling or distributing the same material as named under the new law. But the proposed legislation suggests increasing the maximum penalty with regard to extreme pornographic material from three to five years.
An exception to the rule is if those who possess the photos are principal actors engaging in a fantasy, which raises one of several gray areas, say opponents. Becky Dwyer of Consenting Adult Action Scotland has met repeatedly with Scottish officials, to no avail.
"The amount of research this team have put into the issue was pathetic. It hadn't even occurred to them that someone participating in a scene might not be in a photo," she told The Register. "Meanwhile, they have given no assurances whatsoever that BDSM safety material will be excluded on educational grounds. For a government allegedly interested in safety, this is a shameful omission."
Where the English Parliament didn't seek opinions from the fetish community when it came to its extreme porn law, the Scottish Parliament opened the doors of debate.
"Too much Scottish legislation still suffers from outdated and puritanical 'anti-sex' attitudes," said Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie. "The law should have a basic respect for the freedoms of consenting adults, and for the diversity of their sexualities."
Harvie is concerned that the government is "criminalizing people needlessly."
"While I doubt that any radical amendments will gain a Parliamentary majority, I am hopeful that at least some improvements can be made," he said.