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Session 1998-99
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Obscenity Bill [H.L.]





Amend the law relating to obscenity.

BE IT ENACTED by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

Test of obscenity.     1. - (1) For section 1(1) of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (test of obscenity) there shall be substituted-
    "(1) For the purposes of this Act an article shall be deemed to be obscene if, in whole or in part, it portrays, deals with or relates to any of the activities set out in the Schedule."
      (2) There shall be added to that Act the Schedule set out in the Schedule to this Act.
Offences.     2. For section 2 of the 1959 Act there is substituted-
"Offences.     2. - (1) Subject to section 2A below, any person who knowingly, whether for gain or not-
    (a) publishes,
    (b) distributes, transports or delivers,
    (c) provides for the public or private viewing of,
    (d) advertises the availability of, or
    (e) contributes financially towards the publication, distribution, public viewing or advertisement of,
  any obscene article shall be guilty of an offence.
      (2) In any prosecution for an offence under this section it shall not be a defence to show that the person was acting on behalf of or as an employee of another person.
      (3) A person found guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable-
    (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.
      (4) Where a person is convicted of an offence under this section the court shall, in considering the penalty applicable to his case, take into account the extent to which habitual exposure for the purposes of enjoyment to the article in question, or to articles of that kind, may corrupt or degrade a person, particularly a child or young person.
Exceptions.     2A. - (1) No offence shall be committed under section 2 if any of the conditions described in subsections (2) to (5) is satisfied.
      (2) The article is made for public viewing for education in matters concerning health, hygiene or medicine, and has been certified by the Secretary of State.
      (3) The article consists of publication of a report of judicial proceedings or of any evidence admitted in such proceedings.
      (4) This Act shall not apply to museums, galleries, exhibitions or libraries funded in whole or in part by public or charitable funds or benefactions for the preservation of antiquities, literature or the furtherance of education provided that-
    (a) there are facilities for segregating the viewing or study by adults, young persons and children;
    (b) the relevant books may be studied in situ but not borrowed; and
    (c) replicas or photographs for sale or free shall not be obscene as here defined.
      (5) The article is published or publicly exhibited-
    (a) in the interests of art, literature or science, and
    (b) in whole or in part at public expense,
  and the person is responsible for that publication or exhibition, or for the sale, publication or exhibition of articles connected to that publication or exhibition.
      (5) A certificate under subsection (2) shall be in writing and published in such form as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.
      (6) In subsection (5) "person" includes-
    (a) any person acting on behalf of, and
    (b) any employee of,
  the responsible person."
Repeal.     3. Section 4 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 (defence of public good) shall cease to have effect.
Short title, commencement and extent.     4. - (1) This Act may be cited as the Obscenity Act 1999, and this Act, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the Obscene Publications Act 1964 may together be cited as the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 to 1999.
      (2) This Act shall come into force at the end of a period of one month beginning on the day on which it is passed.
      (3) This Act does not extend to Scotland or Northern Ireland.
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