Government is seeking the views of the public on a proposed new Sexual Offences and Obscene Publications Bill, designed to modernise the Island’s laws on sex offences, obscene publications, indecent publications and pornography.
Sexual offence laws have not been updated for more than a decade, leading to potential gaps in protection for and services to victims. The Bill will repeal and replace current sexual offences and obscene publications legislation addressing a range of circumstances.
Views and opinions are being sought in a number of areas to be covered by the proposed Bill. These include consent, abuse of trust, police powers, notification orders, review of sentences available to the courts, anonymity for witnesses and complainants, and pardons for historic homosexual offences.
The consultation will also ask for opinions on pornography, including extreme pornography, image-based sexual abuse and the prohibition of up-skirting.
Minister for Home Affairs, Bill Malarkey MHK said:
‘I do hope that people can spare just a few minutes to respond to the consultation. We are particularly keen to hear views on the rights of victims of sexual abuse, the definition of consent, legislation regarding pornography, and the rights of witnesses and others to have their identities protected.’
Dr Alex Allinson MHK Home Affairs Member who will be introducing the legislation said:
‘The proposed Bill will place all legislation relating to sexual offences and obscene publications into a single Act. This will also reflect changes that have taken place since the previous legislation was introduced. For example there is no mention of social media but we all know what a huge part of life it is.’
‘We need to make sure that all members of our community are protected against any sexual act which is non-consensual, abusive or harmful. It’s also imperative that any legislation is fair, making sure justice is always open to scrutiny.
‘That’s why I would urge anyone with an interest in the proposed legislation to take advantage of this consultation process. It’s important that we have as wide a range of views as possible.’
The public consultation can be accessed on the Government’s Consultation Hub at
The consultation runs until 4 February 2019.