31

There is a widely spread news about Australia banning pornography featuring actresses with A-cup breasts.

The reason behind:

Senator Joyce claimed that publications featuring small-breasted women were encouraging paedophilia.

Is that true that this legislation exists in Australia? Is such a law legally feasible?

  • 1
    I remember recently hearing a similar rumor about my country that I presumed to be true, but I can't find anything proving it. Maybe it's just a widely passed myth? – Omnomnomnom Apr 12 '13 at 2:13
  • 6
    there are many people who have incorrect ideas about what constitutes child porn and/or pedophilia, and spread those assumptions as being basis for what's allowed and what's not. I encounter this nearly on a daily basis as a moderator in second life, where many assume that having an avatar that's shorter than a certain size is illegal in areas potentially containing nudity because such are considered children under the law (which is totally false). – jwenting Apr 12 '13 at 5:48
35

No, this legislation does not exist in Australia.

The classification of video games, movies, and publications is handled by the Australian Classification Board.

The Australian Classification Board is a decision making body, created by statue in the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act.

There is only one type of material that the statute expressly instructs the board to give a Refused Classification to, and that is material that advocates terrorist acts.

The board has discretion over classification of all other types of material, with decisions reviewable by the Australian Classification Review Board.

The factors that must be considered during classification are:

  • the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and
  • the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the publication, film or computer game; and
  • the general character of the publication, film or computer game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and
  • the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.

These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. In applying this discretion, the board has in the past refused classification "because of the sexual depictions of characters who appear to be under 18" (see this Classification Review Board media release).

In 2009, the director said in a speech:

With titles such as Purely 18 and Finally Legal, it is safe to assume and I can indeed confirm, that such publications contain images of young persons who are depicted to be on the borderline of 18 years old.

[...]

Classification guidelines in Australia expressly state that exploitative or offensive depictions or descriptions involving someone who is or appears to be under the age of 18 years, must be Refused Classification. [Emphasis and link added]

[...]

Interestingly and perhaps the most ‘scandalous’ accusation recently directed at the Board ­likely to have been prompted  by the Boards attention to the breaches I have just discussed above is that we display a bias against small breasted women…and on this basis… are banning material! [Emphasis added]

Criticisms have been levelled at the Board regarding the factors it considers when determining the age of persons depicted in publications, particularly the accusation that small breasted women are determined by the Board to appear to be children. This is categorically untrue. [Emphasis added]

The Board members take their responsibilities seriously and  consider the overall appearance of persons and the context in which they are depicted, including text, props and poses when making classification decisions.

Depicting small­breasted women is not grounds for a publication to be Refused Classification, nor do the classification guidelines refer to the size of a woman's breasts! [Emphasis added]

9

I'd like to add to Sancho's answer. His answer is very correct, there is no ban on small-breasted porn models, but there is an "in practice" reality to the claim due to how the censors categorise and interpret the classification systems in Australia.

There is no specific rule stating that small breasts are bad, but in practice many complaints are registered and material is refused classification due to models not looking "adult" enough and can thus be categorized as either child sexual abuse or offensive sexual fetishes.

Publications will be classified ‘RC’:

  • (a) if they promote or provide instruction in paedophile activity; or if they contain:
  • (b) descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18;
  • (c) detailed instruction in:
    • (i) matters of crime or violence,
    • (ii) the use of proscribed drugs;
  • (d) realistic depictions of bestiality; or if they contain gratuitous, exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions of:
  • (e) violence with a very high degree of impact which are excessively frequent, emphasised or detailed;
  • (f) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have a high impact;
  • (g) sexual violence;
  • (h) sexualised nudity involving minors; (i) sexual activity involving minors; or of they contain exploitative descriptions of:
  • (j) violence in a sexual context;
  • (k) sexual activity accompanied by fetishes or practices which are revolting or abhorrent;
  • (l) incest fantasies or other fantasies which are offensive or revolting or abhorrent.

As you see, this list is quite open to interpretation. Thus the review board for published materials and the complaints board for online material often do classify materials as RC, regardless of their legality.

It is illegal to sell RC material in, say, a newsagent. It’s also illegal to make it available for viewing publicly.

But it’s not by any means illegal for me to own or possess these things myself and view them in the comfort of my own lounge room. It’s quite legal, for example, for me to own and view (or read, or listen to):

  • An RC film, TV program or other video such as Ken Park or Baise Moi;

  • Material on euthanasia such as The Peaceful Pill Handbook;

  • Material that instructs on bomb-making, theft or any other crime.

Now, sure, some of these things are distasteful to many people. Even offensive. Or morally problematic. And they are all refused classification.

But they are not illegal.

So the RC classification often has material on its list despite that material being perfectly legal. This list includes movies, books, video games and internet sites.

But how do small breasted models fall under this classification system? Well, in practice, many RC classifications have been passed against many magazines, such as the Hustler Barely Legal series, Just 18 magazine, New Climax, and of course, various DVDs like this and this. The TV show Hungry Beast did several segments on censorship of porn in Australia, including covering the issue of small breasts and exposed labia lips, which was leading to photoshopping of models.

The best example of the bias against small breasts is from the leaked Australian Internet Filter Blacklist compiled by ACMA. This list of sites was not only a disgrace, as legitimate sites were being blacklisted and didn't realise, but many of the supposed "illegal" or RC sites were perfectly legal. The problem was that they featured small breasted women. For example, Abby Winters, Just Teen, Teens Naked and Tube8, all legal, all acceptable, all models over 18, are on the blacklist. The common theme to many of the banned porn sites is that there are small breasted women or women who "appear to be" too young. The distinction of "too young" is obviously ambiguous and thus many models are RC'd because small breasts is a sign of "young" women.

It is also worth reading the list to see the sort of sites that were being RC'd, because you will see many perfectly legal sites on the list. I suspect, as is outlined in the Wikileaks article, that complaints are lodged for any hardcore sex sites that a complainant comes across "by accident" and it is duly listed regardless of whether content ticks the points I outlined above.

  • The more I read this answer, the more I conclude that the Sancho is right; the answer is No. If older-looking women with small-breasts are not targeted by the attempted ban, it clearly isn't legislation against small-breasts, any more than legislation against assault is not targeted against men specifically, even if more men are charged with assault. – Oddthinking Apr 17 '13 at 15:07
  • 1
    Oddthinking: Yes, that is correct. The legislation isn't targeting small-breasts, which is why I agree with Sancho's post. I wanted to add to his answer, as there are clear examples where this has occurred. – Tim Scanlon Apr 18 '13 at 0:49
  • Sancho: Good point, I'll look at amending my answer for the classifications that it could fall under. The examples for magazines and DVDs, however, are legitimate examples. The problem with the Wikileaks list is, as you mentioned, that no reasons are given, nor are they available. Remember that there are Dental Surgeries, Wikipedia pages, Wikileaks pages, etc, on that list with no mention why. That is the reason I didn't just include the banned sites, but also the magazines and DVDs to show the "in practice" bias. – Tim Scanlon Apr 18 '13 at 0:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .