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The Spanner Trust - BBFC Guidelines

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British Board of Film Classification New Guidelines allow the depiction of consensual sexual SM

26 September 2000

The British Board of Film Classification (“BBFC”) has just published revised classification guidelines in which the influence of the Spanner Trust is evident. Sexual scenes involving consensual restraint, mild pain or humiliation in role-play may now be included in ‘R18’ category videos.

The BBFC is concerned about the depiction of Violence and especially Sexual Violence. “The BBFC has a strict policy on rape and sexual violence. Where the portrayal eroticises or endorses sexual assault, the Board is likely to require cuts at any classification level. This is more likely with video than film, because video scenes can be replayed repeatedly.”

“Any association of sex with non-consensual restraint, pain or humiliation may be cut” [their emphasis –Page 9]

In the ‘15’ Category - “Scenes of sexual violence must be discrete and brief.”

In the ‘R18’ Category – which “is a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit videos of consenting sex between adults,……..

 the following content is not acceptable

  • any material which is in breach of the criminal law
  • the portrayal of any sexual activity, whether real or simulated, which involves lack of consent
  • the infliction of pain or physical harm, real or (in a sexual context) simulated. Some allowance may be made for mild consensual activity
  • any sexual threats or humiliation which do not form part of a clearly consenting role-playing game
  • the use of any form of physical restraint which prevents participants from withdrawing consent, for example ball gags
  • penetration by any object likely to cause actual harm or associated with violence
  • activity which is degrading or dehumanising (examples include the portrayal of bestiality, necrophilia, defecation, urolagia)”

The guidelines make no distinction between hetero and homosexual activity

“The following are of greatest concern:….sex accompanied by non-consensual pain, injury or humiliation….” [Page 20 regarding ‘Rejects’]

BBFC Classification Guidelines – September 2000

The British Board of Film Classification may be contacted at:
3 Soho Square
London W1D 3HD
Tel: 020 7440 1570
Fax: 020 7287 0141

The Spanner Trust always tries to ensure that all information provided is accurate and up-to-date. However, the law can change and is open to interpretation. Before relying upon any statement made by the Spanner Trust you should take your own independent legal advice and the Spanner Trust cannot accept any liability whatsoever.