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© Informed Consent

Newsletter number 6

Posted by C_A_A_N on Wed 29 Apr 2009 to C_A_A_N's blog

Apologies firstly for the slide this month from mid-month to late(ish) in the month…blame it on my birthday, blame it on easter hols, blame it on the boogie.

The big story this month that we took delight in was of course regarding Mr Smith-Timneys porn habits. CAAN haven't yet written to Mr Smith-Timney but once the dust has settled we will, you had to feel sorry for the poor bloke being publically humiliated. (or maybe that's his kink).

CAAN Scotland

The CAAN Scotland page has now been updated and CAAN would very much like to keep the pressure on north of the border…. If you haven't written a letter to your MSP…have a go. Regarding the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill: extreme porn: Tell them you want it struck from the books because “realistic” includes consensual activity, and that it is unreasonable to have a photo only be legal in your own possession. Scotland has made great strides in protecting the rights of consenting adults, but they still fall far too short on several issues. Regarding the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Bill: missing sadomasochism clause: Tell them if they really want to stick it to Westminster, they should accept the Scottish Law Commission's recommendation that sadomasochism be decriminalised. It will simplify the law books, improve precedence on how consent is established, allow for stronger convictions against domestic violence inside of sadomasochism, and allow sadomasochists the same sexual freedom as everyone else.

Fear of the unfamiliar is not a good reason to ban something. Personal taste is not a good reason to ban something. Bigotry is not a good reason to ban something. Right now, these are the problems we face. And we must combat them through education and information, CAAN is continuing the Send a Kinky Book to an MSP Campaign. Choose books that will educate and inform, and when you send it, emphasise that consenting adults should not be vilified. Recommended titles include BDSM how-to books such as “Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns”, BDSM self-help books such as “When Someone You Know is Kinky” and non-fiction such as Niki Flynn's “Dances with Werewolves”. Explain why you sent the book and what you think they should learn from it. 12 copies of “Dances with Werewolves” have been sent through CAAN, and any number of books by individuals. Sent a book? Got a response? Let us know! CAAN Scotland now have a stack of leaflets. We have had several requests from people who would like to distribute them in their place of business, university, club or even among friends, so jump on the bandwagon and help spread the word!

If you think you could distribute some leaflets for CAAN Scotland or contact them for any other reason please write to making it clear the email is FAO CAAN scotland

Meanwhile Mr Harvie continues to be the voice of consenting adults in the Scottish parliament, with this short article in The Scotsman. Shame there isn't an MP with as much gumption in the rest of the UK.

And it's all go in Scotland at the moment with Scotlands trade union congress calling for the abolition of "outrageous" advertisement of sex industry vacancies by Jobcentre Plus, amid fears that rising unemployment could see vulnerable women lured by the promise of lucrative earnings.

A co-ordinated campaign by human rights group Object, the Feminist Coalition against Prostitution, and women's rights group Eaves, has branded UK job centres as "Pimp Centre Plus" in protest against the growing numbers of "exploitative" posts on offer. See the full story here.


And that (and the mere mention of Eaves) I suppose leads us on to issues of trafficking, much in the press over the last month as the European Convention on Action against Human trafficking takes effect this month. On one hand we are led to believe that there are trafficked women under all our beds (there would have to be given the numbers quoted) heres a typical article by Rahila Gupta followed swiftly by this article by Belinda Brooks-Gordon which is a pretty good debunking of the usual feminista froth and fury.

(Still with the Eaves Projects dodgy figures in mind) Another fabulous article by John Oz at El Reg appeared over the Easter weekend about the dodgy statistics and research behind the governments legislation based on morality if you didn't catch it then, please take a few minutes to read it, its long….but crammed with good stuff. Including a mention of the 'spat' CAAN have been having with the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) over the last few months.

CAAN and the EHRC

Since our national convenor Clair Lewis attended the Labour conference up in Manchester and put a question to Trevor Philips about alternative sexualites we have been trying to get some clarification to the answers he gave her. We seem to have reached something of an impasse, having received a dismissive, posibly hypocritical response from their director of Policy, Andrea Murray, to the effect that when they talk about people's “orientation”, they mean their “orientation”.

This they have insisted is as plain as the nose on one's face and not capable of further argument. In much the same way as some fundamentalist groups might uphold people's right to “have sex”, and then insist that by “having sex”, they mean “having sex”. Whadya mean? Gay sex? Obviously, THAT isn't having sex…

And so we go on. The only further clue we got, a few months back, was Trevor suggesting that they existed to protect the rights of people who were 'born a certain way', as opposed to those who had chosen their sexuality. Does anyone else get this as ever so slightly patronising? The EHRC will support the rights of homosexuals because the poor dears can't help it: not because the EHRC has any great commitment to the rights of individuals to their own personal sexuality.

The problem with the EHRC response so far is that it is like so many bureaucratic responses. The pen-pusher concerned doesn't really seem to have given the issue much thought: it is so “obvious” to her that “orientation” is, well, about “orientation to people”, that she appears to believe she only needs to repeat this mantra for every one else to fall into line.

The problem is that as far as we are concerned, that it is only some people – maybe not even the majority – for whom orientation is based on gender-attraction (whether homo, hetero or bi). If the EHRC are going to support the rights of people attracted to a specific gender then why not people attracted to say…cars… sadists….leather…etc etc

And if they're seriously not going to uphold those rights, then a rather fuller explanation than the pathetic circular argument they have been giving us is definitely owed.

The sexual spectrum is far wider than a three horse race (hmm…which Labour MP had a fetish for horses)? And for an organisation who claim to push boundaries in what they support its appalling their views on sexuality are so narrow.

Of course they also deal with Human Rights as well as equality, and we are therefore informing them of the way in which the Extreme Porn law breaches articles 8 and 10 of the Human Rights Act.

We'd like CAAN supporters to let the EHRC know what we think of an organisation who only fights for equality for specific groupings and who seem to revel in their blinkered bigotry.

CAAN will be pushing the EHRC on this issue….in various ways. Help us by writing a letter and then hopefully we'll see some of you at whatever actions we end up organising. Write to Andrea Murray, Director of Policy,

It wouldn't hurt to point out to her this important case, now pending in Canada.

National Union of Students

Another pleasant surprise at CAAN's underground bunker was that 'someone' (thanks…we love you proactive types) has stuck a motion into the NUS conference being held in Nottingham on 24th April.

Its Motion Number: 404 and reads as below (there may be a possible ammendment to it which we are attempting to oppose)

NUS Motion Heading: BDSM Rights: An LGBT Issue Conference Believes:

1. That BDSM refers to the practice, orientation or lifestyle of Bondage and Discipline, Domination and Submission, Sado-Masochism and related activities.

2. That many activities that consensual BDSM practitioners participate in are illegal under current UK law.

3. The Criminal Justice Act 2008 outlaws various forms of “extreme” pornograpy.

4. BDSM Liberation organisations such as CAAN (the Consenting Adults Action Network) have spoken out against this legislation.

5. The Government's consultation document for the Criminal Justice Act (2008), clearly states that research has found no causal link between exposure to violent sexual imagery, and propensity to commit violent sexual acts.

6. The forthcoming extreme pornography law in Scotland is even more restrictive and criminalising than the Criminal Justice Act (2008)

7. That the Consenting Adult Action Network (CAAN) statement of principle, which reads: “We believe in the right of consenting adults to make their own sexual choices, in respect of what they do, see and enjoy alone or with other consenting adults, unhindered and unfettered by government. We believe that it is not the business of government to intrude into the sex lives of consenting adults.”

Conference Further Believes

1. That children, and non-consenting adults, need to be protected from being the victims of sexual activity

2. Activities that take place between consenting adults behind closed doors are not the business of government.

3. That LGBT people are more likely than heterosexual and/or cis people to be victimised in matters pertaining to sex and pornography - demonstrated in cases such as R vs Brown where gay men received disproportionate punishment - whilst straight, heteronormative couples are often let off by judges.

4. “Pornographic” BDSM imagery is often instrumental in educating BDSM practitioners in safe sex practices.

5. That policy on censorship must be equal and evidence-based .

Conference Resolves:

1. To campaign against the forthcoming censorship laws in Scotland as being unjustly criminalising of consenting adults.

2. To sign up as an organisation to CAAN's statement of principle in solidarity with BDSM rights activists.

3. To inform NUS LGBT membership about issues pertaining to censorship and pornography, and specifically how they affect LGBT people.

UPDATE: motion pretty much carried! Good result.


Another snippet from across the pond that scared the jiggers out of us was the proposal to ban pornography involving anyone over 60 or anyone with a disability, we were relieved on one hand to learn it was in a single US state but on the other hand its ideas like that that the labour government seem to enjoy latching onto…any excuse to stop consulting adults getting their jollies. And here is a pretty good debunking of it at Heresy Corner.

Also noticed by a keen eyed supporter was our very own page on the fast emerging Sexipedia which at the moment is in 'public beta' (whatever that means)…but I suspect its somethng you techies could go and contribute to (even if its just to round out the CAAN page)

Oh and a film of the Home Affairs committee talking about Knife crime (an interesting debate from March 24 with some mention of desentisization to violence and violent porn; between mins 7 and 13)…our old mukka Martin Salter MP is there and we are pleased to see he's still proving himself a total tit with his long held belief in snuff movies.

On a more serious note, we were reminded that April 23 marks the death, three years ago, of Adrian Exley. Amidst all the politician-inspired debate about “protecting us from harm”, his family and friends have continued in quiet dignity, campaigning for greater education around bdsm – and arguing, simply, that as people will always have kinky sex, information, not censorship, is the best way to keep them safe. For more information, take a look at the Adrian Exley Foundation

Thanks to everyone who send us interesting links and mentions of CAAN…keep them coming and if anyone wants to elaborate on something and write a paragraph or two for the newsletter it'd be on the whole gratefully received (with the usual provisos that we can't put everything in the newsletter and reserve the right to unashamedly pick and choose).

And finally….

A few of you have been asking what happened to Consent 2009 and we have to admit that we are under resourced to get such an ambitious project up and running this year. It looks like we have several people with relevant skills to organise it but as an 'organisation' we need to get our proverbial shit together regarding money as we still havn't made it into bank account territory.

Apologies to those who showed mucho enthusiasm and hopefully we'll be back in touch.

If you would like to receive the CAAN newsletters directly, you just have to ask to go on our mailing list (you get more links and pretty pictures on the mailing list version) and if you havn't already please consider signing up to the CAAN statement. "We believe in the right of consenting adults to make their own sexual choices, in respect of what they do, see and enjoy alone or with other consenting adults, unhindered and unfettered by government." "We believe that it is not the business of government to intrude into the sex lives of consenting adults." - Sign up here

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