'Indecent' lesbian kiss scenes face watershed crackdown
Lesbian kisses could be banned from television screens until late into the night under radical Government plans to stop children being exposed to ‘indecent’ images.
A review launched with the backing of David Cameron is expected to recommend that sexually suggestive scenes currently allowed before the 9pm watershed – such as the famous lesbian embrace on soap opera Brookside – should not be shown until later in the evening. A ban on explicit advertisements on high street billboards is also being considered.
The inquiry is being led by Mothers’ Union chief executive Reg Bailey. It was launched last year after the Prime Minister – himself the father of young children – warned that exposing youngsters to adult themes can ‘take away their innocence’.
Mr Bailey is likely to focus on a toughening-up of the watershed rules. A source close to the inquiry said: ‘It is hard to protect children in the internet and mobile-phone age but we have to do something.
‘For some parents, what has been considered acceptable in the past – such as that Brookside kiss – is not appropriate for children to see early in the evening.’
That scene in 1994 was the first-ever pre-watershed lesbian kiss. After a storm of protest from viewers, it was removed from Brookside’s weekend omnibus edition. However, Coronation Street and EastEnders have since featured similar scenes.
Sources also suggested that raunchy dance routines, such as those by pop stars Christina Aguilera and Rihanna on last year’s X Factor final, could also fall foul of tougher watershed rules.
Currently, all programmes put out between 5.30am and 9pm must be suitable for children aged under 15. Sexual scenes are banned before the watershed unless there is a ‘serious educational purpose’. After 9pm, broadcasters are allowed to screen more adult themes.
Lesbian kisses could be banned from TV screens until late into the night
Calls to beef up the laws, which were originally devised in the Sixties, are likely to be opposed by film-makers, who argue that the threshold is obsolete. And three years ago, MPs warned that the growth of TV channel websites, on which programmes can be seen at any time of day, had already made the 9pm limit unworkable.
Mr Bailey is also understood to be looking at a ban on sexually explicit advertisements in public places. The source added: ‘Some of those huge poster advertisements for bras and knickers leave precious little to the imagination and they are there for all our children to see.
‘It’s not unreasonable to want to take action against them.’
And Mr Bailey is examining a crackdown on internet pornography by
enabling parents to ask web service providers to block obscene websites ‘at source’ rather than relying on parental controls.
The Department for Education, which is overseeing the review, said: ‘We look forward to receiving Reg Bailey’s recommendations.’