Australia Labor MPs Propose Bill Banning Revenge Porn

The bill would make it a criminal offense to distribute sexually explicit images of an ex-partner without their consent.

Michael Carrby Michael Carr

Revenge Porn – the practice of posting private nudes sent to partners online as revenge, following a break-up – may soon come with criminal charges if Federal Labour MPs Terri Butler and Tim Watts get their way. The duo have just proposed a private members bill on the issue, that if passed would make it a criminal offense to distribute sexually explicit images of an ex-partner without their consent.

The move comes as both Victorian and South Australian Governments move to criminalise the practice, the UK and New Zealand also having enacted similar legislation recently. Ms Butler said Australia’s Federal Parliament also needed to tackle the issue.

“These sorts of things can have long-running consequences. It can be humiliating for someone to have an image or a recording distributed without their consent. It can affect their life, it can affect their mental health,” she said, reports the ABC.

Currently, there are certain provision that address the issue, however the legislation which is part of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Act has failed to keep up with advancing technology Ms Butler says.

“That’s why we need some strong laws to make sure we’re sending the right signals to these communities, to say the fact you can do this does not mean it’s OK to do it,” she said.

Fellow backbencher Mr Watts has lent his support to the proposal, noting the practice as a growing concern for today’s citizens.

“I don’t actually think this is a privacy issue, this is a consent issue and a respect issue,” he said. “We need to send a really clear message to men that the taking of private, intimate, sexual pictures should be viewed in the same way as other sexual conduct.”

The news of the bill comes as Queensland MP Larissa Waters prepares to recommend her own legislation to parliament regarding threats of sexual violence online following an online advocacy campaign named #SexualViolenceWontBeSilenced caught the MPs’ attention.

While it’s exciting to see so much progress being made on gender issues, it is a shame our very own Minister for Women Tony Abbott has had so little to do with these milestones, having yet to comment publicly on either bill.