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Is Lolicon or Loli Porn Legal in Australia in 2024?

When do cartoons cross the line into criminal territory? ‘Lolicon,’ often referred to as “loli porn,” is a niche genre of Japanese manga and anime that has sparked considerable debate, with some arguing it equates to child pornography—referred to as ‘child abuse material’ under New South Wales law. 

Child Exploitation Laws, Anime Regulations, Legal Restrictions, and Censorship Policies are crucial in addressing this controversial Japanese art form in Australia. Here’s a look at how the law in Australia addresses this controversial Japanese art form.

Understanding Lolicon or Loli Porn

‘Lolicon’ is shorthand for “Lolita complex” in Japanese. It often refers to individuals attracted to young girls or women with a childlike appearance. In the world of manga and anime, lolicon, or “loli porn,” portrays these young-looking characters, often in suggestive or explicit ways.

Lolicon has gained popularity in Japan and abroad, igniting debates about its ethical implications. Critics argue that it promotes pedophilia and can be seen as a form of child pornography.

In 2020, Australian Senator Stirling Griff criticised the Australian Classification Board for permitting the importation of lolicon manga and anime, labelling the content as “child exploitation,” and demanding a classification system review.

However, some experts in Japanese culture disagree with this perspective. Yukari Fujimoto, a manga researcher, suggests that the appeal of lolicons is more about the fantasy image rather than real children, a view shared by fans immersed in Japan’s drawing and fantasy culture. Cultural historian Mark McLelland supports this, describing lolicons as “self-consciously anti-realistic,” emphasising their exaggerated, cartoon-like nature.

Despite these cultural defences, the creation, distribution, and possession of lolicon media in Australia likely contravene criminal law. Here at KPT Legal, we can help navigate these complex legal waters to ensure compliance and avoid severe legal repercussions.

Child Abuse Material Offences

Lolicon content can potentially violate several severe criminal laws at both the state and federal levels concerning the possession and creation of child abuse material.

State Law: Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)

Under Section 91H of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), producing, distributing, or possessing child abuse material can lead to a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Definition of Child Abuse Material: Child abuse material includes any material that a reasonable person would find offensive, such as:

  1. Depictions of a child being tortured, abused, or treated cruelly.
  2. Images of a child in a sexual pose or involved in sexual activity.
  3. Scenes showing a child alongside someone else engaged in sexual activity.
  4. Any focus on a child’s private parts.

Criteria for Determining Offensive Material: When determining if the material is offensive, several factors are considered:

  • Societal standards of decency and morality.
  • Any artistic, literary, or educational value.
  • The material’s journalistic merit.
  • The overall nature of the content.

Lolicon content likely fits within this definition, as child abuse material includes not only real children but also fictional characters who appear under 18.

Notable Case: A notable case, McEwen v. Simmons, involved the NSW Supreme Court upholding a conviction where the material in question included cartoons of characters from The Simpsons engaged in sexual activities. The court determined that the term ‘person’ includes fictional characters, reinforcing the illegality of such depictions.

Federal Law: Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)

On the federal level, the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) addresses the production, distribution, and access of child sexualisation material. For example, Section 474.22 criminalises using the internet to:

  • Access child abuse material.
  • Cause child abuse material to be transmitted.
  • Distribute, advertise, or promote child abuse material.
  • Solicit child abuse material.

Additionally, Section 474.22A makes it an offence to possess or control child abuse material via a carriage service, even if the person did not intend to access it. Using postal services for such material is also prohibited under Sections 471.19 and 471.20.

Each of these offences carries a hefty maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment.

Like state laws, federal laws cover any depictions of individuals under 18, including cartoons, dolls, and written descriptions of sexual acts.

Here at KPT Legal, we’re equipped to help you understand and navigate these complex legal issues to keep you on the right side of the law.

Selling or Possessing Prohibited Material

Lolicon can also be charged with less severe offences, particularly regarding content that would be denied classification under Australian laws.

Any media intended for sale, display, or distribution in Australia must be classified by the Australian Classification Board. Both film and publication guidelines mandate that content depicting or describing child sexual abuse or any exploitative or offensive material involving someone who looks under 18, must be refused classification and thus banned nationwide.

The Classification (Publications, Films, and Computer Games) Enforcement Act 1995 (NSW) outlines various offences related to selling or showing prohibited content:

  • Section 6: Selling or publicly exhibiting films that have been refused classification can result in fines up to $11,000 and/or 12 months in prison for individuals or a $27,500 fine for corporations.
  • Section 16: Keeping or possessing a refused classification film in a place where classified films are sold can result in a $11,000 fine for individuals or $27,500 for corporations.
  • Section 17: Leaving a refused classification film in a public place or private property without permission can incur the same penalties: up to $11,000 and/or 12 months in prison for individuals or $27,500 for corporations.
  • Section 18: Possessing or copying refused classification films intending to sell or exhibit them carries the same penalties: an $11,000 fine and/or 12 months in prison for individuals or $27,500 for corporations.
  • Section 19: Selling publications that have been refused classification also has penalties of up to $11,000 and/or 12 months in prison for individuals or a $27,500 fine for corporations.

Stay on the Right Side of the Law

Anime and manga enthusiasts must avoid lolicon to prevent facing serious legal issues. The risks associated with this type of content are significant and can lead to severe consequences.

If you find yourself accused of creating, possessing, or distributing child abuse material, including “loli porn,” it’s essential to act quickly. Contact KPT Legal for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defence lawyer.

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