Thursday 16 October 2008

Sex in public

As a couple in Dubai get sentenced for getting a bit frisky on a beach, the Association of Chief Police Officers in the UK is in the news because one of its members is working on guidelines for the policing of public sex in the UK. The story is here.

It looks as though the police approach is perfectly sensible. Their job is to enforce the law as it is, not to moralise or to enforce some other law which does not yet exist. If the BBC report is accurate, the guidelines include reasonable ideas on how to enforce the law in an efficient but sensitive manner.

Bizarrely, Dominic Grieve, Shadow Home Secretary, is quoted as saying that the ideas are unacceptable (in the BBC story, link above), while here he is arguing that it is unacceptable for local authorities to snoop on us. Dear Dominic, do you want the authorities interfering in our lives to enforce all of their petty rules, or not?

Sadly, one option does not appear to be under widespread discussion. This would be to change the law so that sex in public was always allowed, and was not a matter for police action. Obviously public nudity would need to be made fully legal, and not subject to charges of outraging public decency, breach of the peace or anything else, at the same time.

We have after all come a long way in enhancing freedom to be expressive in public over the past century, and the world has not fallen apart. We can look at extremely repressive societies like that in Saudi Arabia and laugh, at least when we are not crying at the savage oppression of the female half of the population. Perhaps in a few decades, people will look back at us and laugh, for the same reason.

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