List of pornography laws by region

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

Australia

Regulation has increased somewhat under the John Howard government, but remains reasonably widely available. X-Rated pornographic videos may be bought and hired in Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, and may not contain violence, child sexual abuse or demeaning portrayals (such as bestiality, scat etc). The various states have different laws on pornography, but the edited highlights are that there are numerous shops in each state and territory, all of which can sell or rent (books, magazines, videos) and many also illegally sell X-rated and RC (refused classification) material openly. Technically it is illegal to sell X-rated material in all states, but it is not illegal to possess X-rated material. However, the Australian constitution prohibits states from regulating interstate commerce, thus it is legal to purchase pornography in the ACT and bring it interstate.

Austria

Pornography is legal. Male actors in local movies must wear condoms in penetration scenes. All actors must be 18 or older. 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.

Bulgaria

Hardcore pornographic material is "not recommended" for distribution to persons under the age of 18. Softcore material is rarely censored, even by the state TV stations. 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 18. 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 be in any pornographic film produced in Canada (whether it be a sexual act or not). 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 surfing for child porn as an offence as well.

People's Republic of China

Technically illegal: Recently the Gong'an arrested and accused some porn movies producers, but adult magazines are sold publicly de facto, although specifics of the regulation is not known.

Colombia

Child pornography prohibited under new constitution. Marketing is very strictly regulated. Most materials are sold on the black market. Bogota has at least 300 places where pornography (hardcore) may be legally obtained.

Denmark

Ban on pornographic literature was lifted in 1966. In 1969 Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise (hardcore) pornography.

Finland

Child, snuff and bestiality pornography is banned. It's 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.

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 only "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 up to 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. Special parental privilege to show hardcore pornography to their children for educational purposes. 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.

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.

Hungary

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 of age. Display of genitals on cover of magazine is prohibited unless obscured.

Ireland

No laws against pornography (other than Child Pornography) as such however there are censorship boards with the power to ban the import, sale or distribution of individual publications and films. At one time the list of banned books ran into thousands although in recent years (particularly since the mid 1990's) very few publications or films have been banned.

India

Pornography is illegal and attracts several penal provisions. However, enforcement is extremely lax and pornographic materials are easily available. The law also states that only the distribution of pornography is illegal, while its creation and accessing it is not. Therefore, it is legal to access a pornographic site hosted on non-Indian servers. 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

Illegal, however enforcement is extremely lax. 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 ceativity.

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".

Israel

Legal, pornography in all its form can be found in any video rental shop (including video vending machines), and there are Israeli stores that specialize in pornography, as well as several companies that produce Israeli porn. In the past years hardcore pornography was broadcasted on Pay Per View television but it's currently illegal and only softcore porn allowed on TV.

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.

Malaysia

Illegal, however enforcement is extremely lax.

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 TV channels.

Netherlands

Very liberal laws. Magazines sold openly at normal newsstands. Child pornography is illegal. Pornographic movies are rated for viewers 16 years or older. Material involving animals declared illegal in 2006 due to new animal-welfare laws. actors of pornography must be 16 or over.

New Zealand

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

Norway

Hardcore material has for long been illegal de jure, but legal in practice, that is, illegal to produce, distribute and sell, but legal to possess. One may e.g. acquire it abroad, on the internet, or via satellite TV. There are also some illegal porn shops, especially in the larger cities. To satisfy legal requirements, editors of erotic magazines, domestic TV channels and cable TV have 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 it is expected that pornographic magazines will be introduced in general stores. It is not yet clear if the Supreme Court decision will affect film or TV. (It is still illegal to depict illegal sexual activities, i.e. involving children, animals, necrophilia, rape, violence or the use of force.) Illegal to show hardcore material on cable TV while satellite TV remains a grey area and graphically demonstrates the legal ambivalence Norway has towards hard pornography. When it is shown, digital text is used to obscure the screen, but this is easily circumvented by turning off the "Subtitle" function on the channel.

Pakistan

Pornography is illegal. However they are easily accesible 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.

Poland

Since September 1998 according to section 202 of 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 the people who do not want to have any contacts with pornographic materials and to the persons under 18 years old. Pornography magazines and movies are sold in transparent plastic bags openly in kiosks, oil stations, supermarkets etc.

Portugal

Child pornography is a crime. Regular pornography (not involving bestiality/snuff) is legal. Male actors in local movies must wear condoms in penetration scenes. All actors must be 18 or older. 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.

Russian Federation

Production and distribution explicitly prohibited, but State Duma has repeatedly failed to pass laws regulating pornographic materials, leaving status of most material unclear. De jure all pornography is allowed, but de facto there are some limitations on where it can be sold, and zoophilia and child pornography are de facto prohibited. Openly sold erotic magazines usually do not display nipples and pubic area on covers. Most material is filmed in Saint-Petersburg where the law defines pornography as materials including rape, bestiality, necrophilia or child pornography, making all other subject matters legal erotica.

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 things make enforcement hard: (1) the law does not define what is pornography, 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.

Singapore

Illegal, including softcore publications such as Playboy. Accessing internet pornography is illegal. The Media Development Authority (MDA), which regulates internet access in Singapore, requires ISP's to block porn sites on a list of up to 100 pornographic websites they maintain. According to the MDA, this is a symbolic list that focuses on only the most popular porn sites.

Slovenia

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 of age. Display of genitals on cover of magazine is prohibited unless obscured.

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. Ibiza island is a popular set for pornographic movies.

Sri Lanka

Very liberal laws. Hardcore magazines are sold openly at normal newsstands. Pornographic movies are rated for viewers 13 years or older.

Sweden

May be viewed beginning at age 18, no age limits for magazines. Illegal for persons below 18 to act in films made in Sweden. Material involving animals is de-facto legal but subject to animal-welfare laws.

Switzerland

Legal, subject to exceptions: sale or display to persons under 16 or to non-consenting audiences is punishable by a fine or up to three years imprisonment. The same penalty is applicable for the possession, sale, import, etc. of child pornography, bestiality, excretions or violent acts. There is an exception for pornography with cultural or scientific merits.

Taiwan

Illegal if sold or shown to children under 18 years of age. Display of genitals on cover of magazine is prohibited unless obscured.

Turkey

Legal. Softcore porn widely available. Extreme or graphic pornography is generally restricted to adults or X-rated.

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. Hardcore material was 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 in some places. Purely textual pornography has not been prosecuted since the Inside Linda Lovelace trial of 1976. The Home Office plans to introduce legislation to criminalise possession of what it has labelled extreme pornography.

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 Indecent pseudo-photograph of a child, 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 legal at the Federal level unless it meets the Miller test of obscenity, which is rare. Child pornography involving actual children engaged in sex acts or posing is a crime. The law against simulated child pornography was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2002 in the case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, wever, 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/acts have been self-regulated out of mainstream porn. Pornographic materials may not be made available to persons under 18 years of age or 21 in some jurisdictions. Some attempts at restricting pornography on the Internet have been struck down by the courts; see: Internet pornography.

Vietnam

Illegal. Enforcement is strict. According to the legislatures, pornography harms Vietnamese standard values. <

References


Also see these other related Sex industry articles
* AIDS and the porn industry * Adult film * Burlesque * Brothels
* Call girls * CAL-OSHA requirements * Erotic massage * Erotica
* Escort agency * Live sex show * Nude model * Peep show
* Phone sex * Pornography laws by region * Pornography * Prostitution
* Red-light districts * Sex industry * Sex shop * Sex show
* Sex tourism * Sex toys * Strip club * Striptease

Prostitution by country


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