Swiss referendum will put sex-related regulations up for a vote

Dozens of Swiss citizen’s have successfully petitioned the Swiss government to put a vote before the public on whether to keep imposing restrictions on pornography, in the latest contentious issue to rock the conservative Alpine nation.

To comply with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of pornography as “sexually exploitative and/or exploitative in the sense that it targets children and/or provides sexual stimulation to minors,” the Swiss government began applying, in 2013, a variety of strict guidelines for labeling pornographic images. The most blatant aim was to prevent content that uses children or teenagers in an exploitative fashion.

But it was soon clear that this wasn’t always the case, leading to an increase in the number of disputes related to porn and the subsequent litigation. According to Amnesty International, last year there were at least 25 lawsuits from citizens who felt that they’d been “sexually exploited” by the media. One such landmark case involved the Italian magazine Centeri d’Erotica that exposed a young Swiss woman to sexual assault via a topless photo shoot without her consent. An appeals court ordered the magazine to have its publisher-publisher responsible fined and also disabled their database of high-quality photos.

The Nov. 20 referendum will decide whether or not to remove the prohibitions. Officials say they want to ensure that pictures that target minors will still be prohibited, and additionally want to ensure that porn categories remain separate from ones that target adults.

Switzerland has itself taken some swipes at the U.S. over its efforts to restrict porn, specifically the “exclusion zone” rule adopted in North Carolina and Indiana. In the U.S., the current president has called the online porn industry “a free-for-all” and claimed that it “destroy[s] families.” He has repeatedly railed against Amazon and other tech companies that will not “fix” it, and suggested that employees be educated how to pick up the porn they produce. He also believes that if the industry shows female genitalia, it’s selling “fake news.”

In North Carolina, the rule requiring porn users to register every time they download material changed the media industry landscape dramatically. Now sex industry companies no longer face the blockade of prosecution and new rules allow content for production to be considered illegal only if minors are minors by reason of their age.

You can read more about the referendum and all the controversies surrounding it here.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.


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