List of pornography laws by country

List of pornography laws by country

Pornography laws differ widely from region to region. Below is a brief summary of pornography restrictions, sorted by country:

Australia

Technically it is illegal to sell or rent X-rated material in all states of Australia, but it is not illegal to possess X-rated material, and the sale or rental of X-rated material is legal in the Northern Territory and ACT. As the Australian constitution prohibits states from regulating interstate commerce, it is legal to purchase pornography from stores in either territory and bring it interstate. This law means the majority of Australian mail order operations for adult material operate from the ACT.

Ratings for the X18+ category were tightened in 2000 to ban material featuring some fetishes or which appeared to include minors. In 2007 the Howard Government made the possession of X18+ pornography illegal in some Aboriginal communities.

Austria

"Youth-imperiling" materials or those which violate human dignity may not be displayed or sold to persons under 16 years of age. Nudity is not assumed as such material.

Brazil

Child pornography is a crime; all actors must be 18 or older. Regular pornography (not involving bestiality/snuff) is legal. Male actors in local movies must wear condoms in penetration scenes. When sold at public places, magazine and DVD covers that depict genitalia must be hidden from public view. Any pornography can only be sold to people 18 or older, but enforcement is generally lax.

Bulgaria

Formally production or distribution of pornography in Bulgaria is a crime. However, there is no clear concept of the difference between pornography and erotica and the authorities tolerate distribution of hardcore in the specialised shops or by TV after 11 pm. In reality only child pornography is prosecuted. Hardcore pornographic material is forbidden for distribution to persons under the age of 18. Softcore material is rarely censored. Magazines and pornographic papers have become increasingly available since the fall of communism in 1989, and local editions of many international magazines are published.

Canada

Hardcore material is legal in Canada to anyone over the age of majority (18 or 19 depending on province). Sales to persons under 18 (varies by province) is prohibited, though they may own it. Most materials are sold in adult stores or websites, despite no specific law controlling the distribution. Canada Border Services Agency is empowered to stop the importation of materials prohibited under obscenity laws; many gay and lesbian bookstores have charged that this is applied in a discriminatory way to same-sex pornographic materials. Conversely, some over-the-air television stations (particularly Citytv and TQS) often broadcast softcore pornographic films after midnight. Hardcore films also air on MExcess, one of the seven multiplex channels operated by The Movie Network. In addition, pornographic films may be publicly shown (to those above the age of 18) and advertised, as is the case in some stores on Toronto's Yonge Street. It is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to appear in any pornographic film produced in Canada, regardless of whether such participation is a sexual act. It is also illegal for someone "depicted" as being under the age of 18 to appear in a pornographic film, regardless of age. Child pornography is illegal in Canada. The Canadian government is introducing what it says are the most stringent laws against internet child pornography in the world. Its proposal, contained in a wide-ranging justice bill, would make not just downloading or the possession of child porn a crime, but cause surfing for child porn to constitute an offence as well. See also Censorship in Canada.

Denmark

Ban on pornographic literature was lifted in 1967. In 1969 Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography.

Child pornography is illegal. [Section 234 of the "Danish Criminal Code" (1969), reads whoever 'sells indecent pictures or objects to a person under 16 years of age' is to be punished by a fine. Section 235 (1980) has a special provision concerning the reproduction and sale of child pornography, that is, sexually explicit photographs of persons who appear to be under 15 years (the taking of such pictures was always a criminal offence).] It is illegal to distribute image or video pornography with persons under the age of 18. Though the age of consent is lower at 15. It is, however, not illegal to possess images or videos of people above 15 if the person filmed or photographed has given consent.

People in Denmark have free access to pornography; it is sold in most convenience stores, and is available for purchase or rental in practically every video store, including Blockbuster. There are a few regulations, such as being placed out of the eyesight of children. Pornography may not be sold to persons under the age of 15. The TV-channel Kanal København broadcasts hardcore pornography free and uncoded at night.

There are no specific restrictions against animal pornography, this is regulated by animal cruelty laws. If no harm or pain has been inflicted on the animal, or otherwise caused it harm, no legal action can be taken. This lack of legislation has allegedly made Denmark a center for the production of animal pornography, however this was dismissed as a myth by Det Dyreetiske Råd (a legal council), which in November 2006 published an extensive report on the topic of animal sex. [http://www.justitsministeriet.dk/fileadmin/downloads/Pressemeddelelser2006/d.pdf]

Further reading:
* Morten Thing: "Pornografiens historie i Danmark" (Aschehaug, 1999)
* Berl Kutchinsky: "Law, pornography, and crime: The Danish experience" (Pax Forlag, 1999)

Egypt

It is completely illegal in Egypt and all Arab Countries Fact|date=September 2008. However, unlike Saudi Arabia and UAE, web sites featuring pornography are not blocked.

Finland

Child, violent and bestiality pornography is banned [ [http://www.finlex.fi/sv/laki/ajantasa/1889/18890039001 Strafflag, 17 KAP, 18 §] ] . It is allowed to sell pornography in every store, but magazines to buyers of 15 years or older and hardcore to buyers of 18 years or older.

Before 1 January 1999, all indecent publishing, import and export were banned [ [http://www.finlex.fi/sv/laki/alkup/1927/19270023 Lag angående undertryckande av osedliga publikationers spridning] ] .

France

Extremely violent or graphic pornography is considered X-rated, may be shown only in specific theaters, and may not be displayed to minors. Incurs special taxes on revenue (33% for X-rated movies, 50% for pornographic online services). The rating system is controversial; for instance, in 2000, the sexually explicit and violent "Baise-moi" was initially rated as "restricted" by the French government, but this classification was overturned by the "Conseil d'État" ruling on a lawsuit brought by associations supporting Christian and family values.

Germany

Child pornography is banned. Although law defines a child to be a person under the age of 14, no pornographic material may involve persons below the age of 18. Hard pornography (violence and animal related) may not be produced or distributed; possession is allowed. Hardcore pornography is restricted to buyers of 18 years or older. If a store is accessible to minors, the material must not be on display and may only be sold discreetly and by request. The law defines pornography to be hardcore pornography, thus anything else is not restricted.

Greece

Softcore magazines, calendars, and decks of cards are sold openly at roadside kiosks and tourist shops. Extreme or graphic pornography is generally restricted to adults or X-rated. Apart from that, there are no other restrictions to pornography distribution and possession, while the law stating than hardcore pornography is to be supplied only to adults is frequently ignored and rarely enforced.

Hong Kong

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 of age, or if publicly displayed (except within the confinements of and only visible from inside "a bona fide art gallery or museum"), or if published without being wrapped completely without an "easily noticeable" notice stating that the material may be offensive and may not be distributed to minors. [cite web | url=http://www.legislation.gov.hk/BLIS_Export.nsf/CurAllEngDocAgent?OpenAgent&Chapter=390 | title=Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance | accessdate=2006-08-26]

Hungary

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 of age. Display of genitals on cover of magazine is not prohibited.

Iceland

Child pornography is illegal. A minor (a person under 18) can not watch or buy porn.

Ireland

No laws against pornography (other than child pornography) as such exist; however, there "are" censorship boards with the power to ban the import, the sale, or the distribution of individual publications and films. At one time the list of banned books ran into the thousands, though in recent years (particularly since the mid 1990s) very few (practically none) publications or films have been banned, and those that were previously banned have had their bans reversed.

India

Pornography in India is illegal and attracts several penal provisions.Fact|date=June 2008 However, enforcement is extremely lax and pornographic materials are easily available.Fact|date=June 2008 The law also states that distributing and accessing pornography is illegal.Fact|date=June 2008 Pornographic films in India are referred to as Blue Films and are available virtually anywhere; especially in areas where pirated material is already being sold.

Indonesia

Still unknown, some said illegal, others said legal. This problem is now being discussed in the parliament. It is planned that there will be UUAPP (Anti-Pornography law), a controversial law. Muslims in Indonesia encourage the government to quickly pass this law, but some secular artists argue that pornography is an art, so banning pornography is killing creativity.

Iran

Pornography is illegal in the Islamic Republic of Iran. However, due to widespread internet access (in particular, downloading programs) and the existence of a large-scale black market in Western films, pornography is not completely unknown in the country and is called "super film". In a law that in mid-2007 was passed by parliament but still required approval of the Guardian Council, producers of a pornographic film face execution if found guilty. [cite web | url=http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3276645 | title=Iran Parliament Backs Porn Death Penalty| accessdate=2007-10-31] .

Israel

Israeli law defines a few prohibitions on child pornography and on pay per view television (PPV was legal but now only softcore porn allowed on TV). Otherwise, pornography can be sold, bought and produced in Israel.

Italy

In Italy pornographic films are rated for viewers aged 18 and over, child porn is illegal (child meaning a person under 18), snuff is illegal and sex acts involving animals are illegal.

Japan

As in Europe, photographs of nudes are not uncommon in the mainstream media. In the 1970s and 1980s, the strongest prohibition was against showing pubic hair or adult genitalia. Imported magazines would have the pubic hair scratched out, and even the most explicit videos could not portray it. Starting around 1991, photobook publishers began challenging this ban to the point where pubic hair is now fairly well accepted. Close-ups of genitalia remain proscribed. In 1999, the government enacted a law banning photos and videos of naked children, which were a fairly common sight in mainstream media before that time. Manga and anime remain largely unregulated, although large publishers tend to self-censor (which is rare if compared to the United States, as nudity is more accepted in Japan) or specify that characters are at least 18 years of age.

Lebanon

It is illegal to produce and/or broadcast pornography on national television stations, although pornographic magazines and movies are widely sold, mostly pirated - a common Lebanese piracy issue - but if found by authorities, magazines are packed in black bags for censorship. Even though porn production is illegal in Lebanon, enforcement is lax, and local productions are widely found.

Malaysia

Illegal.

Mexico

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 years of age. Enforcement is lax. Magazines or comics featuring softcore (and some hardcore) pornography are commonly sold in newsstands. After midnight, softcore films and shows are shown on a few cable TV channels.

Netherlands

Child pornography is illegal. Otherwise liberal laws. Magazines sold openly at normal newsstands. Pornographic movies are rated for viewers 16 or over including hardcore. Material involving animals declared illegal in 2006 due to new animal-welfare laws.

New Zealand

Illegal for sale under 18 years of age, however rarely inforced. Generally liberal, although the most extreme forms of pornography (pedophilia, rape, bestiality, etc.) are classified as objectionable material by the law.

Norway

Hardcore material was for a long time illegal de jure, but legal in practice, that is, illegal to produce, distribute and sell, but legal to possess. One could e.g. acquire it abroad, on the internet, or via satellite TV. There were also some illegal porn shops, especially in the larger cities. To satisfy legal requirements, editors of erotic magazines, domestic TV channels and cable TV obscured "sexual organs in activity" using black rectangles etc. After the Supreme Court on 7 December 2005 unanimously acquitted a former magazine editor for publishing unobscured hardcore pornography in 2002, however, it is understood that printed hardcore pornography is no longer illegal, and pornographic magazines and movies were introduced in general stores from 2006. Public TV as well as cable TV seems to stay with the old rules, and is not yet clear if the Supreme Court decision will affect TV. (NB: The depiction of illegal sexual activities, such as those involving children, animals, necrophilia, rape, violence or the use of force, remains illegal.) [cite web | url=http://www.dagbladet.no/kultur/2005/12/07/451567.html | title=Høyesterett sier ja til porno - Dagbladet.no | accessdate=2006-08-26] [cite web | url=http://www.aftenposten.no/nyheter/iriks/article1174004.ece | title=Porno-frifinnelse i Høyesterett | accessdate=2006-08-26] [cite web | url=http://www.nrk.no/nyheter/kultur/5301377.html | title=NRK.no - Kultur | accessdate=2006-08-26]

Pakistan

Pornography is illegal. However they are easily accessible in most parts of the country especially in privately owned video shops and through the internet. They are commonly referred to as "Blue Print" movies.

People's Republic of China

Internet pornography was outlawed in the People's Republic of China effectively in 2002, when the state censors issued guidelines demanding that all websites remove any and all pornographic material. [cite web
url=http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2002/01/18/china-internet.htm
title=China creates stern Internet, e-mail rules
date=2002-01-18
publisher=USA Today (www.usatoday.com)
accessdate=2008-01-01
last=
first=
] . Enforcement is strict and laws are inflexible, with the official stance being a hard-lined opposition to pornography. The government reinforced and restated its position and started a crackdown in 2004, jailing a woman in the process. [cite web
url=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/08/16/china_jail_xxx/
title=China jails woman in porn crackdown
date=2004-08-16
publisher=The Register (www.theregister.co.uk)
accessdate=2008-01-01
last=Richardson
first=Tim
]

Since 2008, the production of pornographic movies has been banned by the state censors, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television's prohibition has been kept absolute, and the government refuses to alter this stance. Any directors, producers and actors involved in pornographic movies haven disallowed from competing in any film competitions. Any movie studio found in violation of this ban may have their licenses revoked. [cite web
url=http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Quirks/2008/01/01/production_of_xxx_movies_banned_in_china/3162/
title=Production of XXX movies banned in China - UPI.com
date=2008-01-01
publisher=United Press International (www.upi.com)
accessdate=2008-01-01
last=
first=
]

As a result of regulators and censorship, adult films and media can only obtained through the internet and in black markets.

Philippines

Any kind of pornography is illegal in the Philippines. This is due to the influence of very conservative political parties, such as the MTRCB, and Christian groups and churches, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and others [cite web
url=http://mentalhealthlibrary.info/library/porn/pornlds/pornldsauthor/links/philippine/pornx.htm
title=Pornography: Society at Risk
publisher=mentalhealthlibrary.info
accessdate=2008-01-01
last=
first=
] . However, the current law does not specifically outlaw webcam sex sites, which are often based in the Philippines, plus enforcement is lax [cite web
url=http://www.philippines-for-men.com/blog/%5Buser%5D/legality-cam-porn
title=The legality of cam porn | Philippines For Men
publisher=www.philippines-for-men.com
accessdate=2008-01-01
last=
first=
] .

One such example was in July 2008 when a congressman and 11 Baptist pastors sued 7 publications for 'pornographic content'.

Abante and 11 other pastors of the Baptist organization Bible Mode sued the publishers of the magazines FHM (For Him Magazine), Maxim, Playboy Philippines, Playhouse, and the tabloids "Sagad", "Hataw", "Baliktaran", and "Toro".

The complaint said that they showed obscene, erotic, and lascivious pictures; sexual acts; sexual intercourse and the display of the genitals, female breasts, anus, and other private parts; and intended to draw lust and arouse prurient interest. [http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/metro/view/20080707-146987/Solon-11-pastors-sue-7-publications-for-porn-content Philippine Daily Inquirer - 07/07/2008 Solon, 11 pastors sue 7 publications for ‘porn’ content]

Poland

Since September 1998, and according to Section 202 of the national Penal Code, pornography is legal except pornography materials with minors below 18 years old, bestiality (zoophilia) and “scenes of violence/rape”. Also illegal is presenting/showing pornography materials to people who do not want to have any contact with pornographic materials and to persons under 18 years of age. The possession of child pornography is illegal. Pornographic magazines and movies are sold in transparent plastic bags openly in kiosks, oil stations, etc.

Romania

Pornography is legal in Romania. Magazines must be enclosed in plastic bags(or something else) with a small red square printed on the enclosing material and pornographic TV channels offered by cable operators must be encrypted. Pornographic materials cannot be sold to minors under 18. Also, actors and actresses must be of at least 18 years of age.

Russia

The legal status of pornography is uncertain. The law criminalizes only the 'illegal' production and selling of pornography (which implies that sometimes it can be legal), but two factors make enforcement of the law difficult: (1) the law does not define what pornography is, and (2) the law does not define when production/selling is legal or illegal. But production, distribution and public demonstration of child pornography (below 18 y.o.) is a crime punishable by imprisonment. Possession is not a crime, if there is no intent to distribute or exhibit.
In the Stalinist period, the importation of pornography to the USSR was a capital offence. Genrikh Yagoda, the third head of the NKVD, was accused during his trial (besides espionage and high treason) of storing a great number of pornographic films and pictures. Such accusations were also faced by Yezhov, who followed Yagoda.

audi Arabia

Like much of the Arab world, pornography is highly illegal.

Singapore

Pornography is illegal in Singapore. Hotels offer pay per view pornography.

South Africa

Pornography rated X18 is legal if sold to persons over the age of 18 in registered stores. It is illegal to host a pornographic web site in South Africa because of the difficulty of age-verification and the requirement that pornography only be distributed from designated, licensed physical premises. Child pornography is completely illegal (rated XX) in any form, including the written word. It is illegal to visually represent bestiality (also rated XX), but not illegal in text descriptions. Violent pornography is illegal in any form. It is legal to produce pornography that would be legal to consume.

Distribution of pornography is regulated by the Films and Publications Act of 1996 [http://www.info.gov.za/acts/1996/a65-96.pdf] which is enforced by the Films and Publications Board [http://www.fpb.gov.za/home_page.asp] .

Spain

Legal, very lax regulation. Not allowed to people under 18 years old. It is illegal to display pornographic material at newsstands, but the great majority do so. In the city centres there are sex shops. E-commerce merchants from all around the world use I.P.S.P. (internet clearing services) from Spanish banks.

Sri Lanka

It is illegal to sell pornographic content but it is widely sold in Sri Lanka. And even pornogrpahic movies are made inside the country.

Sweden

No age limits at all. Some shops follow a voluntary 18 year limit. Illegal for persons below 18 to act in films or pose for photography made in Sweden. Video and stills are illegal if actor is below 18 even if legal in originating country. Material that may involve animals is "de facto" legal; however, it is subject to animal-welfare laws. BDSM is classified as "illegal depiction of violence," but the law is rarely used to ban any such material.

Taiwan

The sale or display of pornographic material to children under 18 years of age is illegal in Taiwan. The display of genitals on the cover of magazines is prohibited unless obscured.

Thailand

Pornography laws in Thailand are strict and pornography is illegal. Child pornography is illegal apart from the sex trafficking and adolescent prostitution. Other forms of pornography such as yaoi and hentai are illegal but common over the internet.

Turkey

It is illegal in Turkey to diffuse "obscene" images, words or texts through means of communication. [Article 226/II of the "Turkish Penal Code" 2004. The penalty is imprisonment from 6 months to 3 years.] [ [http://www.tbmm.gov.tr/kanunlar/k5237.html "Türk Ceza Kanunu"] at the website of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey tr icon] However, unlike Iran, Saudi Arabia and China, web sites featuring pornography are not blocked, and it's not unusual to see people selling pornographic cds on streets.

United Kingdom

In England and Wales, the main legislation on pornographic materials is contained in the Obscene Publications Act 1959, the Obscene Publications Act 1964 and the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981. Video-orientated depictions of hardcore material (with certain exceptions for works considered primarily 'artistic' rather than pornographic) were illegal until 1999, when trade-barrier difficulties with regards to European Community membership ensured the relatively free movement of such goods for personal importation only. R18-rated videos are only available in licensed sex shops, but hardcore pornographic magazines are available in newsagents' (shops selling newspapers, magazines, confectionary, et cetera). Purely textual pornography has not been prosecuted since the "Inside Linda Lovelace" trial of 1976. The Home Office brought forward legislation to criminalise possession of what it has labelled extreme pornography, now contained in sections 63 to 68 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 [ [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2008/ukpga_20080004_en_9#pt5-pb1-l1g63 Criminal Justice & Immigration Act 2008 ] .

Child pornography is illegal (child is defined as a person under 18) to possess, make (in terms of electronic copies) and to distribute, and is punishable by up to 10 years custodial sentence on conviction. In England and Wales the law on this type of material is strictly defined by the Protection of Children Act 1978, Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, further amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to include pseudo-photographs, and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which raised the age from 16 to 18 (the age of consent in the UK is still 16). Sales of pornography is for over 18s only. In Scotland, similar provision is to be found in sections 52 and 52A of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, which was also amended by the 1994 Act and by the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005.

United States

Hardcore material is only illegal at the Federal level if it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which is rare. Child pornography involving actual children engaged in sex acts, or posing, is a crime on the Federal level punishable by a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years; for the purpose of the statute, "child" is defined as meaning a person under the age of 18. The United States law has some of the world's harshest penalties against child pornography. The law against simulated child pornography was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2002 in the case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition; however, this opinion seems to have been superseded by the adoption of the PROTECT Act of 2003. Prosecution for, and tolerance of, pornography varies widely from state to state and city to city. Certain materials and/or acts have been self-regulated out of mainstream porn. Pornographic materials may not be made available to persons under 18 years of age. Some attempts at restricting pornography on the Internet have been struck down by the courts; see: Internet pornography.

Vatican City

See Italian laws.

Vietnam

Illegal. Enforcement is strict. According to the legislatures, pornography harms Vietnamese standard values. [cite web | url=http://www.catwinternational.org/factbook/Vietnam.php | title=Vietnam - Coalition Against Trafficking of Women | accessdate=2006-08-26]

References


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