Ssha annual conference 2008


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An invited lecture I delivered to the Society of Sexual Health Advisors (SSHA) in 2008 at their Annual Conference.

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Ssha annual conference 2008

  1. 1. 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
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION <ul><li>Public expressions of sexuality </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Cottaging’ (‘Beats’/’Tearoom’) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Cruising’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Dogging’ – ‘lovers lanes’ </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul>
  3. 3. SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2003 S.71 <ul><li>Sexual activity in a public lavatory </li></ul><ul><li>(1) A person commits an offence if— </li></ul><ul><li>(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, </li></ul><ul><li>(b) he intentionally engages in an activity, and, </li></ul><ul><li>(c) the activity is sexual. </li></ul><ul><li>(2) For the purposes of this section, an activity is sexual if a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider it to be sexual. </li></ul>
  4. 4. SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2003 S.66 <ul><li>Exposure </li></ul><ul><li>(1) A person commits an offence if— </li></ul><ul><li>(a) he intentionally exposes his genitals, and </li></ul><ul><li>(b) he intends that someone will see them and be caused alarm or distress. </li></ul>
  5. 5. SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT 2003 S.67 <ul><li>Voyeurism </li></ul><ul><li>(1) A person commits an offence if— </li></ul><ul><li>(a) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, he observes another person doing a private act, and </li></ul><ul><li>(b) he knows that the other person does not consent to being observed for his sexual gratification. </li></ul>
  6. 6. COMMON LAW <ul><li>‘ Outraging Public Decency’ </li></ul><ul><li>Rose v DPP [2006] EWHC 852. </li></ul><ul><li>Additional Legal issues – domestic violence, HIV consent issues – ‘bugchasing’ – some evidence of cruising/dogging grounds being identified for this activity too. </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Issue of consent irrelevant in S.71 terms. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, the involvement of a willing or unwilling spectator is irrelevant. </li></ul><ul><li>The act is wrong per se – as with S&M Offences - Laskey, Jaggard and Brown v United Kingdom (1997) 24 EHRR 39. </li></ul>
  8. 8. MOTIVATIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL FACTORS <ul><li>Premise remains, to criminalise is to stop. </li></ul><ul><li>Humphreys – Chess like moves – roles of players. </li></ul><ul><li>Delph – commuter spots </li></ul><ul><li>Debates around public/private divide </li></ul>
  9. 9. PASSING OF 2003 BILL – LORD CARLISLE OF BERRIEW <ul><li>For me—and this has absolutely nothing to do with prejudice against gay people, straight people or any other people—public 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. </li></ul>
  10. 10. MOTIVATIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL FACTORS <ul><li>Construction of space – Skeggs and Moran – Manchester/Lancaster </li></ul><ul><li>Role of ‘Glory Holes’ etc, cubicle doors, transient nature of the space </li></ul><ul><li>1993 – Church et al study </li></ul><ul><li>Enjoying the activity sexually, excitement and the thrill, anonymity </li></ul>
  11. 11. QUEER SPACE <ul><li>Growth in designated ‘Queer Space’ in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>Manchester’s ‘Gay Village’ </li></ul><ul><li>Newcastle’s ‘Pink Triangle’ </li></ul><ul><li>2007- proposals in both Liverpool and Middlesbrough </li></ul><ul><li>Skeggs and Moran – hetero-normalisation of Queer Space </li></ul><ul><li>Whittle – ‘beautiful people’ syndrome. </li></ul>
  12. 12. VIRTUAL POLICING <ul><li>Ten areas in England are covered by one site (2007 survey): Cheshire, Cornwall, </li></ul><ul><li>Derbyshire, Durham, Kent, Blackpool, Burnley/Pendle/Rossendale, </li></ul><ul><li>Manchester, South Yorkshire, Suffolk and Sussex Police. </li></ul><ul><li>Usually ‘Diversity Officer’ </li></ul><ul><li>Less obvious evidence on dogging sites. </li></ul>
  13. 13. VARIABLE APPROACHES <ul><li>Some Boards inactive – Manchester, Derbyshire </li></ul><ul><li>Some boards – only cruising community – Durham </li></ul><ul><li>‘ 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). </li></ul>
  14. 14. BLACKPOOL <ul><li>Lancashire Police </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasis on Support </li></ul><ul><li>Tackling homophobic crime </li></ul><ul><li>Enlists other members of the online cruising community to disseminate info. </li></ul>
  15. 15. BLACKPOOL <ul><li>‘ 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]’ </li></ul>
  16. 16. SOUTH YORKSHIRE POLICE <ul><li>Pragmatic </li></ul><ul><li>Identifiable Individual – ‘Mick’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Arbitrator’ </li></ul>
  17. 17. CONCLUSIONS <ul><li>The criminalisation of public sexual encounters has systematically failed to prevent the continued sexing of public sex. </li></ul><ul><li>Growth in Internet sites – Gaydar etc </li></ul><ul><li>Growth in commercial space </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Postcode lottery of crime’ </li></ul><ul><li>The triumph of the equality agenda over the ‘queer’ agenda. </li></ul>
  18. 18. CONTACT DETAILS: <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>