Charlie Byrne | Fashion Editor | Wednesday, 31 December 2014

So, It Turns Our Margaret Thatcher Almost Banned Sex Toys

The Debrief: Our former PM considered banning sex toys to 'improve public decency'

Sex toys are pretty common-place to us now - you might not wave yours under your mum’s nose, but if your mates find it in your bedside table when rifling for painkillers or if one falls out of a friend’s suitcase, there’s a  bit of lolz and then you get over it, right?

This laid-back, laissez-faire approach to buzzing things for your bits nearly never happened, however, as it turns out Margaret Thatcher almost banned sex toys in the 80s, under obscenity laws. The National Archives have released documents that reveal that the former Prime Minister was asked to consider banning them in order to improve public decency, as part of an anti-pornography drive led by campaigner Mary Whitehouse. 

The former Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, backed the proposal, writing to Mrs Thatcher in 1986 to explain the ‘strong case’ for banning sex toys. In a report by The Times, Brittan is quoted describing the toys as ‘most objectionable’ and highlighting their ability to cause ‘physical injury’ (we’re guessing he isn’t a 50 Shades kinda guy then...) 

The 1959 Obscene Publications Act could have ensured that the toys were banned (the same law was used to prosecute Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960) if Thatcher had not called for the act to be reviewed, and for a new test to be created to evaluate which items actually threatened public decency. 

What with everyone being into different levels of kinky stuff, it turned out that it would be virtually impossible for the courts to decide which toys would pass the revised ‘Deprave and Corrupt test’, and so we were allowed to go about our business with a bumper pack of batteries. Huzzah! 

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Tags: Sex, Sex O\'Clock, Sex And Tech