HC Deb 19 March 2003 vol 401 cc833-5W
Mr. Drew

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the impact of the Sexual Offences Bill for(a) naturists and (b) those who (i) work as nude models and (ii) paint and draw nudes. [102437]

Hilary Benn

[holding answer 12 March 2003]We neither expect nor intend the proposals in the Bill to have any impact on naturists, or those who work as nude models or who paint and draw nudes.

Clause 70 of the Sexual Offences Bill proposes to make it an offence for someone to expose their genitals knowing or intending that someone will see them and knowing, intending or, in certain circumstances, being reckless as to whether the person seeing them will be caused alarm or distress. People who are "flashed" at in the street often find this a disturbing experience. It follows that anyone who wishes to be naked in situations where others will see them must continue to give careful consideration as to the effect that might have on those others.

The Bill is not intended to restrict the normal leisure activities of naturists who are exercising their preference for being naked among others who feel the same. Exposure will only be an offence where the person knows or intends that a person who sees his or her genitals will be caused alarm or distress or where he or she foresees a risk that such a person will be caused alarm or distress and acts unreasonably in running that risk. We do not expect the introduction of the exposure offence to have any impact on the way in which nudity in public is currently regulated by the police.

Similarly, the exposure offence will not affect models who are invited to pose naked for an art class because such models will not have the criminal state of mind in relation to causing others alarm or distress.

As for people in an art class who paint or draw nudes, the Bill will have no impact on them either as they will not be committing any offence. Although the Bill does introduce an offence of voyeurism at clause 71, for such observation to be an offence, it must be done for sexual gratification, while the other person is within a structure which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy and without that other person's consent. None of these factors will be present where an artist is openly painting a nude model who is posing for that artist.

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