Sex and Politics: Australia's New Political Party takes on the Mandatory Internet Filter

On November 20, adult industry spokespersons launched a new political party: The Australian Sex Party.

Here’s one of the party’s promotional videos:

Tired of “hypocrites” and “wowsers” (an Australian slang term for an obtrusively puritanical person)? The Sex Party hopes to save their nation from such people. The woman you see in this video is the party’s convenor, Fiona Patten, the head of the Eros Association, the national adult retail and entertainment lobby group.

What has triggered this new party line? Patten says the trigger has been the Australian government’s decision to place a mandatory filter on the Internet.

The Filter

The Australian Internet filter has been a topic of discussion for some time now. Patten’s concern is that the filter will actually blacklist any and all adult sites.

Currently this mandatory Internet filter is being primed to block 10,000 websites as part of a blacklist of unwanted content, which includes 1300 websites already blacklisted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy recently spoke in Federal Parliament about the live trial of this filter technology that will last six weeks. This pilot “will test against this list as well as filtering for a range of URLs to around 10,000 so that the impacts on network performance of a larger blacklist can be examined.”

What will the ACMA consider as “unwanted content”? Under the Australian government’s $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users will be able to switch between two blacklists which block content that is inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material.

The Sex Party

Sex Party convenor Fiona Patten asks, “Basically, should what happens in your bedroom be decided by minority religious lobby groups?” She gives an unqualified “No.”

The party will seek to overturn this mandatory ISP filtering and return Internet censorship to parents and individuals. What other policies will the Sex Party have? These are some of their objectives quoted directly from the party’s website:

  • Develop global approaches to tackling child pornography which focus on production of the material rather than its distribution.
  • To bring about the development of a national sex education curriculum for secondary schools as a first step in preventing the sexualization of children.
  • To hold a referendum to create mandatory equal numbers of women in the Senate and State Upper Houses.
  • Abolish sex slavery and sexual servitude by introducing non morality-based immigration policies that allow bona-fide sex workers to work legally in Australia.
  • To bring about the establishment of a truly national classification scheme which includes a uniform non-violent erotica rating for explicit adult material for all jurisdictions and through all media including the Internet and computer games.
  • To enact national pregnancy termination laws along the same lines as divorce law — which allow for legal, no-fault and guilt-free processes for women seeking termination.
  • Overturn restrictions on aid to overseas family planning organizations that reference abortion.
  • To create total equal rights in all areas of the law for gay, lesbian and transsexual couples.

What chance does the Sex Party have? Patten comments that there is four million customers of adult shops in Australia, so the Party believes it has a real chance of winning seats in the state and federal parliaments. Patten also hopes the 1000 or so adult shops around the country would become Sex Party branches.

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