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Update: Minnesota Anti-porn bill would reduce sexual assault, advocates say

from www.minnesotaindependent.com – Five Minnesota lawmakers — four Democrats and a Republican — are proposing legislation they hope will reduce sexual assault in Minnesota. The bill, introduced Feb. 25, would give preference when planning taxpayer-funded events to hotels and meeting facilities that do not show violent or exploitative pornography.

Sponsors of the bill include Sens. Tarryl Clark [pictured], DFL-St. Cloud; Steve Dille, R-Dassell, Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul; and Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport; and Rep. Larry Haws, DFL-St. Cloud.

Caroline Palmer, staff attorney for the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA), cautions that the bill is not a mandate, but a commitment by the State of Minnesota to reduce sexual assault.

“It simply directs the state to give preference to facilities that offer porn-free environments, and it gives the state the ability to make decisions based on reasonableness factors related to cost and geographic location,” Palmer told the Minnesota Independent. “Our focus is primarily on the relationship between how the state chooses to spend public dollars and the state’s commitment to preventing sexual violence.”

Palmer said that pressure from the state can influence businesses to discontinue providing sexual images that depict violence and degradation.

“This is one way in which the state can demonstrate that commitment by sending a message about its public health priorities to the businesses it contracts with for state meetings and travel purposes,” she said.

MNCASA data shows that violent and degrading pornography creates a “normalization of sexual harm.”

“Normalization entails a greater acceptance, or at least agreater tolerance, for a certain activity,” said Palmer, adding that tolerance toward violence is harmful to the victims of sexual assault. She also said that many times, people who are forced into this type of pornography suffer physical and emotional harm.

But, Palmer said, the group is not necessarily anti-porn. “I would also like to make it clear that we are not saying everyone who uses pornography will commit a sexually violent act,” she said.

According to the bill summary, the legislation is fairly limited:

Only work or materials that link sexually explicit content [as defined in MN criminal statute 617.241] that also eroticizes domination, degradation or violence would be affected. It would affect most adult programming channels on in-room cable; though not programming that might appear on a premium channel such as Showtime or HBO. It also establishes a “reasonableness standard” for efforts for creating pornography-free environments.

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