13 Apr 2017

Petition calls for inquiry into pornography harm

6:35 am on 13 April 2017

All major parties in Parliament were on hand today to receive a petition calling for a investigation into the health and societal harms of pornography.

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The petition was presented on the steps of Parliament today Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron

The petition was led by Family First director Bob McCoskrie and received over 22,000 written signatures in just two months.

The government have not ruled out an investigation, but said regulating porn was a complicated issue.

Bob McCoskrie was not calling for porn to be banned, but said more research was needed to understand the impact of pornography.

"It's the same as we've acknowledged that there's an obesity epidemic and we're not against food. But we do need to acknowledge when something becomes harmful.

"Yesterday's pornography is now mainstream media, today's pornography is far more explicit and it's also aggressive and that's what we're concerned about."

He wanted the expert panel comprising of neurologists, biologists, councillors, psychotherapists, researchers, youth workers and teachers - to investigate and then make policy recommendations to Parliament.

Labour MP William Sio received the petition and said the research findings could be helpful in other areas of law making.

"The view is if we're going to tackle sexual violence meaningfully, and address it with the aim of eliminating it, then we need to have the evidence before us about the link between porn and sexual violence."

National MP Chester Burrows said many people in the government thought an inquiry into porn was a good start.

The law hadn't kept up with where technology had taken pornography, which caused concern particularly among parents, he said.

"We're not talking about a couple of well read Playboys tucked under the kid's bed now, we're talking about people being able to look at pornography, animated on their own personal telephones and computers which can't be monitored."

The Minister of Justice Amy Adams said regulating porn was a complicated issue.

"There are some very degrading and dehumanising examples of pornography that deals with violence against women. That's fairly repugnant.

"But at the same time we have a society that is subject to our criminal law settings, and are pretty tolerant of free expression. We have to walk those lines very carefully."

The petition now goes to a Select Committee for consideration.