Council of Europe starts fight against pornography


European Union


Photo AFP, Anthony Wallace

The Council of Europe wants schools to fight against the ill effects of pornography. Comprehensive sexuality education in schools should become "the main source of information on sexuality for young people", thus helping prevent the spread of unreliable and potentially harmful information via pornography.

The standing committee of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted a resolution to that effect based on the report by Frank Heinrich on the gender aspects and human rights implications of pornography. Heinrich is a European People's Party member in the European Parliament on behalf of the German Christian Democratic CDU/CSU.

According to the Assembly's Standing Committee said pornography often "engendered and perpetuated stereotypes" by "conveying an image of women as subordinate to men, as objects and trivialising violence against women", the Parliamentary Assembly writes on its website.

Anti-porn filters

In the resolution, the committee writes that pornography is "ubiquitous", primarily online. "It is estimated that over half of all internet traffic is related to pornography and sex, and a large proportion of the population consults pornographic material." The Covid-19 pandemics are believed to have further exacerbated this situation.

After this, the resolution goes to the Parliamentary Assemblee of the Council of Europe. In that Assemblee participate MP’s from all the 47 member states from Europe.

The PACE resolution makes recommendations to counter the "negative and degrading image" of women portrayed in pornography, such as sexuality education, critical thinking tools for young people and more significant support for parents to deal with cyber sexism. Concrete measures are proposed: anti-porn filters should be activated by default on all new computers and portable devices, internet providers should enable customers to clearly opt-in or out of access to such material, age verification should be a legal obligation, and porn websites should carry warnings about potential harm.


Furthermore, work and pornography do not go together, says the resolution. "Pornography should be banned in the workplace, and employers required to install blocking filters."

The committee is also of the opinion that the consent of all those depicted should be strictly verified. At the same time, providers should be required to collect the identities and contacts of everyone who uploads public pornographic material. "Revenge pornography" should be criminalised, and states should consider extending existing bans on "the glorification of criminal acts" to cover violent pornography.

The assembly does not consider its views to be contrary to democratic freedoms. "While freedom of expression is a pillar of democratic societies and a right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5), it is possible to set limits to this right when they are prescribed by law and are necessary in the interests of, amongst others, the prevention of crime, the protection of morals and the protection of the rights of others."



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