DEAKIN WEST, Australia - When you hear "Sex Party," the first thing you think of isn't politics. But Australia's Sex Party is the real deal and means it.
On it's website, the organization states: "We're serious about sex -- The Australian Sex Party is a political response to the sexual needs of Australia in the 21st century. It is an attempt to restore the balance between sexual privacy and sexual publicity that has been severely distorted by morals campaigners and prudish politicians."
The Sex Party was convened by Fiona Patten, who has worked as a lobbyist for the adult industry for more than 20 years, heading up Eros, Australia's national adult retail and entertainment association.
"In that time we have managed to prevent federal and state governments from wiping out the legal adult industry entirely but in general, laws restricting the adult industry have remained in place although generally overlooked," Patten told AVN.com in an exclusive interview.
The Sex Party has been a vocal opponent of the current Aussie government's mandatory ISP filtering scheme, which has been well-covered by AVN.com. The plan would force ISPs to filter out all material deemed as sexually explicit, not just child pornography as its proponents initially claimed.
"This was the proverbial straw," Patten said. "We thought if we cannot affect law reform with common sense arguments, broad community support backed up with independent research and numerous national polls then we need to get into parliament."
Patten said the current Australian Senate has a number of independents that hold the balance of power.
"One is an Evangelical Christian that can often hold the government to ransom particularly on sex issues," she explained to AVN.com. "Our Prime Minister is also very conservative with strong religious views and we have very strong Christian lobby groups here. In my meetings with politicians I would often hear- “Fiona, I agree entirely with your position but I hold my seat by less than 8 percent and if the local church was to campaign against me I may not get elected next time. So sorry...”
To that effect, Patten and the Sex Party have increased their presence in the political landscape down under, with plans to run a candidate or candidates in regions that include Western Australia.
"While Australians are a pretty laid back bunch, our politicians are not," she said. "I am sure this is the same in most countries. They are concerned about the 8 percent vocal minority so they ignore us."
"To get a senate seat in Australia we need about 14 percent of the vote in one state. Independent research shows that over 25 percent of Australians regularly watch and buy adult material. We are a small country and with 1,000 adult shops and sites to act as branches for the party we think that we can get to a large number of adult voters who are sick of politicians in their bedrooms and now deciding what they can view online," Patten said.
The party's public officer, Robbie Swan, told AVN.com that they see this political experiment in Australia as something that could affect the status and profitability of the adult industry around the world.
"Forming a proper political party and going thru all the necessary registration processes to make it sit on the same level as established parties, is very different to having one or two candidates running as independents," Swan said. "I'm not saying that independents [in America] from the adult industry like Stormy Daniels or Mary Carey are not valuable exercises. They are. But forming a political party requires a lot of organizational and political skills and sends a message to the established parties that an independent cannot do."
Swan cites Patten's debate last month with Australian Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, on SBS national television's "Insight" program.
"Fiona exposed his plan to filter all X-rated material from the Internet in Australia and forced him on the program to say that, in the face of overwhelming opposition, he would not do that," Swan said.
"After the program in the Green Room, he made a bee line for her and exploded, but not about the Internet rules.'Why are you running candidates against us?' he regaled her with. It was a telling moment about the effect of forming the party and said all sorts of things about the discussions that had clearly taken place within the government about the Sex Party and possibly even within Cabinet."
Patten points out the party's policies address issues of sexuality, equality, sexual health and sex education.
"We are not asking to become the government but we asking people to vote for us in the senate so the majority voice can be heard on all sexual issues," she said.
The Sex Party also seeks to attract support from the gay and lesbian community as well parents wanting better education for their children.
"In fact I think there is a policy for almost everyone," Patten said.
"Another important difference is that our grassroots support is small to medium businesses from the adult industry," she added. "The major parties are quick to help big business but the rest are largely overlooked even though they are the major source of employment in this country. Many of their issues are the same as for non-adult businesses such as tax, maternity leave, government red tape etc."
While some - especially within the Aussie adult industry -- thought that with the party's name, it would not be taken seriously, but that hurdle appears to have already been cleared.
"People were concerned that the name the Australian Sex Party was tooharsh and maybe we should go for something like the Liberty party or the Sexual Rights party," Patten told AVN.com "Frankly we would not have got the media attention that we have had so far with those names. I have also been surprised at the positive media we have had. Most are taking us seriously. Another factor to our name is that in Australia it is compulsory to vote. This results in a lot of people particularly young people going into the booth and scribbling on the form – we call it a donkey vote. Now they will have the choice of ticking just one box, the sex party box! We do not doubt that this will bring in a number of votes."
"If we are successful in winning even one Senate seat, this party will change the electoral landscape in Australia," Swan added. "It will be the first industry association that decided to form a political party as a way of achieving its law reform ideals and just watch the rush from other industry associations to do the same -- The Pharmacy Guild, the Farmers Federation, the Auto Association, etc., all have major issues with the government which are supported to a degree by the community."
Swan suggested that if can happen in Australia, the U.S. adult retail and film industry could be ever so much more successful.
"To this extent we want the U.S. industry to get involved at a distance and to try and make this prototype work here so that it might be adopted in the U.S.later on and in a form that would work for your political system," Swan said. "We're proposing to create a special U.S. 'Sex Party Down Under' supporter scheme where for a few hundred dollars, we send a company a party pack with all the material to put around their offices and we'll also list them as supporters on the Eros website."
In turn, the Sex Party will encourage retailers in Australia who visit its site to support US sponsors.
"As Robbie says, it would be wonderful to get some support from the international adult industry," Patten said. "This election will of course cost money. But with the industry becoming more and more international it makes sense for us to band together politically."