Obscene Publications Acts
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Since 1857, a series of obscenity laws known as the Obscene Publications Acts have governed what can be published in England and Wales. The classic definition of criminal obscenity is if it "tends to deprave and corrupt," stated in 1868 by John Duke Coleridge, 1st Baron Coleridge.
There have been several Acts of Parliament of this name:
Of these, only the 1959 and 1964 acts are still in force in England and Wales, as amended by more recent legislation. They define the legal bounds of obscenity in England and Wales, and are used to enforce the censorship of obscene material. Irish law diverged from English law in 1929, replacing the OPA 1857 with a new Irish act; see Irish statutes relating to censorship.
Important events in the recent history of the Obscene Publications Act have included:
- 1960: the Lady Chatterley's Lover obscenity trial
- 1971: the Schoolkids Oz obscenity trial
- 1984: the Gay's the Word prosecution
Scottish prohibitions on obscene material are to be found in section 51 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982.