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Public Sex and the Law in the Internet Age


Public Sex and the Law in the Internet Age Society of Sexual Health Advisors Annual Conference 2008 Chris Ashford, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Sunderland – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Public Sex and the Law in the Internet Age

Public Sex and the Law in the Internet Age
  • Society of Sexual Health Advisors Annual
    Conference 2008
  • Chris Ashford, Senior Lecturer in Law, University
    of Sunderland

  • Public expressions of sexuality
  • Cottaging (Beats/Tearoom)
  • Cruising
  • Dogging lovers lanes
  • Internet

Sexual Offences Act 2003 S.71
  • Sexual activity in a public lavatory
  • (1) A person commits an offence if
  • (a) he is in a lavatory to which the public or a
    section of the public has or is permitted to have
    access, whether on payment or otherwise,
  • (b) he intentionally engages in an activity, and,
  • (c) the activity is sexual.
  • (2) For the purposes of this section, an activity
    is sexual if a reasonable person would, in all
    the circumstances but regardless of any persons
    purpose, consider it to be sexual.

Sexual Offences Act 2003 S.66
  • Exposure
  • (1) A person commits an offence if
  • (a) he intentionally exposes his genitals, and
  • (b) he intends that someone will see them and be
    caused alarm or distress.

Sexual Offences Act 2003 S.67
  • Voyeurism
  • (1) A person commits an offence if
  • (a) for the purpose of obtaining sexual
    gratification, he observes another person doing a
    private act, and
  • (b) he knows that the other person does not
    consent to being observed for his sexual

Common Law
  • Outraging Public Decency
  • Rose v DPP 2006 EWHC 852.
  • Additional Legal issues domestic violence, HIV
    consent issues bugchasing some evidence of
    cruising/dogging grounds being identified for
    this activity too.

  • Issue of consent irrelevant in S.71 terms.
  • Therefore, the involvement of a willing or
    unwilling spectator is irrelevant.
  • The act is wrong per se as with SM Offences -
    Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom (1997)
    24 EHRR 39.

Motivational and Behavioural Factors
  • Premise remains, to criminalise is to stop.
  • Humphreys Chess like moves roles of players.
  • Delph commuter spots
  • Debates around public/private divide

Passing of 2003 Bill Lord Carlisle of Berriew
  • For meand this has absolutely nothing to do with
    prejudice against gay people, straight people or
    any other peoplepublic lavatories should be
    sex-free zones. I do not want to hear people
    moaning and groaning in a cubicle when I take my
    grandson into a public lavatory to use it for the
    purpose for which it was designed. I am glad to
    hear that the Minister and the Government are
    open to discussion and persuasion on this matter
    and I look forward to a change in the Bill in due
    course. I invite the Government to reconsider
    very carefully that narrow issue.

Motivational and Behavioural Factors
  • Construction of space Skeggs and Moran
  • Role of Glory Holes etc, cubicle doors,
    transient nature of the space
  • 1993 Church et al study
  • Enjoying the activity sexually, excitement and
    the thrill, anonymity

Queer Space
  • Growth in designated Queer Space in the UK
  • Manchesters Gay Village
  • Newcastles Pink Triangle
  • 2007- proposals in both Liverpool and
  • Skeggs and Moran hetero-normalisation of Queer
  • Whittle beautiful people syndrome.

Virtual Policing
  • Ten areas in England are covered by one site
    (2007 survey) Cheshire, Cornwall,
  • Derbyshire, Durham, Kent, Blackpool,
  • Manchester, South Yorkshire, Suffolk and Sussex
  • Usually Diversity Officer
  • Less obvious evidence on dogging sites.

Variable Approaches
  • Some Boards inactive Manchester, Derbyshire
  • Some boards only cruising community Durham
  • Would also like to hear something from
    Northumbria Police outlining their policy across
    Tyne Wear and Northumberland. Am sure that they
    regularly monitor this site, so come on I
    challenge you to reveal yourselves (2006).

  • Lancashire Police
  • Emphasis on Support
  • Tackling homophobic crime
  • Enlists other members of the online cruising
    community to disseminate info.

  • I have been asked to pass this message onto you
    from name deleted (Fleetwood police station)
    and name deleted (Garstang police station).
    There is a meeting on Thursday 1st Feb at
    location deleted it is at 6.30 pm. The meeting
    is for the Northern Section, which starts at
    Kingsway Cleveleys and covers Thornton
    Cleveleys/Fleetwood/Poulton/Garstang and then
    North up to Morcombe sic and Lancaster, please
    feel free to attend this LGBT PACT (Police And
    Community Together) Meeting if you live in this
    area, the officers are there to listen to any
    questions and help build confidence with the LGBT
    community and the Police. if sic you require
    any more info then please contact me on this e
    mail address deleted

South Yorkshire Police
  • Pragmatic
  • Identifiable Individual Mick
  • Arbitrator

  • The criminalisation of public sexual encounters
    has systematically failed to prevent the
    continued sexing of public sex.
  • Growth in Internet sites Gaydar etc
  • Growth in commercial space
  • Postcode lottery of crime
  • The triumph of the equality agenda over the
    queer agenda.

Contact Details