Justice Committee Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill – Stage 2 Written submission from Simon Brooke
Before going on to the primary matter of my submission, I should like to take issue with your preference for receiving submissions in the proprietary format of an illegal foreign monopoly. This is not exactly the best way to run an open parliament, nor to encourage our native software industry. The Scottish Parliament has, over the past two years, shown a shocking tendency to introduce extremely regressive and puritanical legislation in areas of sexual conduct. We have criminalised fifteen year old girls who have sex. We have banned the possession of images of '.rape and other non-consensual penetrative sexual activity, whether violent or otherwise.', without any concept of how one tells, from an image, whether or not the participants were consenting; and thus, have essentially banned the possession of any image of human sexuality. And now we see a proposal to outlaw anyone 'engaging in paid for sexual activities'. What, pray, is a 'sexual activity'? When a doctor prescribes viagra for a patient, is that a 'sexual activity'? When a nurse takes a swab from a student who fears she may have a sexually transmitted disease, is that a 'sexual activity'? When a woman who is in employment makes love to her spouse who is unemployed, is that a 'paid for sexual activity'? When I, as an author, write a story in which my characters have sex, and some person reading the story later experiences a frisson of arousal, is that a 'paid for sexual activity'? When a man pays a pro-domme to beat him with a whip, is that a 'paid for sexual activity', and if it is, how do you propose to distinguish that scenario from a man who pays an osteopath to help him with back pain? When your daughter goes out for a meal with a new boyfriend, and he pays, and they later find themselves in bed together, is that a 'paid for sexual activity'?
No-one denies that there are problems around coerced prostitution, and there is clearly a genuine public policy interest in protecting victims from such coercion. But coerced prostitution is explicitly covered by other provisions of the proposed bill. Given that, it is clear that the amendment tabled by Ms Godman deals exclusively with uncoerced, consensual acts. The state proposes to step into the bedroom, and determine what acts consenting adult citizens can and cannot choose to pay one another for. When the Taleban introduced legislation like this into Afghanistan, the West rightly held them up to ridicule as puritanical, and trampling all over the human rights of the population. Do we really want Scotland to be seen as the moral heirs of the Taleban? Do we want Scotland to become once again a nation afraid of its own sexuality? This proposed amendment is literally scandalous. It is shameful that any civilised person could even suggest it. It is no business either of Ms Godman's or of the Parliament's what adult citizens choose to do, consensually, in the privacy of their own homes. Simon Brooke 15 March 2010
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