What can governments do about pornography?



February 29, 2024

ARPA Canada has a new policy report on pornography that seeks to answer the question: What can (and should) governments do about pornography?

The pornography industry is one of the most prominent drivers of sex trafficking. Pornography is also often used to groom women and children into further sexual exploitation. Porn sites often include videos and images of violent pornography and pornographic content featuring minors. Pornography is often uploaded without the consent of those depicted, and it is nearly impossible to have such content permanently removed from the internet.   

Pornography is inherently dehumanizing, treating people (especially women and girls) as objects and seeing their worth in their ability to satisfy sexual desires. Pornography objectifies and degrades human beings made in the image of God. It is also forbidden by the seventh commandment, which encompasses looking at a woman lustfully (Matthew 5:28).

Pornography is so pervasive that the website Pornhub alone receives roughly 4 million unique user visits per day in Canada, or about 10% of the entire Canadian population. Pornography use is highly addictive, often destroying relationships and changing users’ attitudes and beliefs about sex. It is a scourge on our society and should be combatted.

Restricting Pornography

The Canadian Criminal Code does not explicitly mention pornography except in the context of child pornography. However, it does prohibit obscenity, defined as “any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence.” According to the law, much of the pornography that circulates online today would be considered obscene. But the law is poorly enforced.

There have been attempts in recent years to better restrict pornography in Canada. Bill C-270, introduced in the House of Commons in 2022, seeks to prohibit the creation of pornographic material for a commercial purpose without verifying the age and consent of those shown. It also seeks to create an offence for failing to remove videos or images for which consent has been withdrawn.

In 2021, Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne introduced Bill S-210, which seeks to prevent sexually explicit material from being made available to young people on the internet. It would do so by requiring pornography companies or internet service providers to reliably verify the age of potential users.

Other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and France, have been implementing age-verification processes due to the high numbers of children who are being exposed to pornography. Canada should follow their lead.

Updated Policy Report

ARPA Canada recently published a revised and updated Respectfully Submitted policy report on pornography. In this report, we consider practical ways that the government can (and should) limit pornography in Canada. This report was first published in 2017 and has now been updated to reflect political and legal developments in Canada and other countries.

Canadian MPs and Senators are considering how they should restrict pornography, at least in certain areas. We encourage you to read through the report and connect with your representatives to encourage them to read it as well. Please contact us at [email protected] if you have any feedback, suggestions for improvement, or other questions on the report.

Bill S-210: Young Persons Exposure to Pornography, Pornography Email Us 

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