Read the full article by Rebecca Sullivan and Valerie Webber on TheConversation.com 

The recent attempt by Conservative MPs to label porn a public health crisis in Canada is part of a web of attacks against gender and sexual minorities — and a diversion from necessary policy debates on ending sexual violence. Luckily, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health didn’t go for it.

It’s a good thing because there a number of public health issues which need to be addressed. Children receive insufficient and often scientifically inaccurate sexual education and women cannot access reproductive and sexual health services. Queer and transphobic attacks remain the highest-rated violent hate crimesex workers are denied the right to work with security and dignity  and shelters are turning away people fleeing domestic violence.

None of these issues relating to public sexual health have been addressed by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health this year.

Instead, they debated M-47, a motion to study “the public health effects of online, violent and degrading sexually explicit material of children, women and men.”

Just the title creates confusion. For example, separating out the social and sexual differences between children and adults would be a Herculean task. Then there is the fraught problem of defining “violent and degrading.”

Faced with such an unwieldy framework, the committee decided to focus on peer-reviewed research to help them understand the issue prior to releasing the report and making recommendations.

Remarkably, Canada decided not to follow in the footsteps of the United States and the United Kingdom in blaming porn for a wide range of medical and social ailments, from erectile dysfunction to divorce. Instead, the report acknowledged that while pornography use may co-relate with some unhealthy and anti-social behaviour in some people, there is no credible evidence that pornography of any kind causes that behaviour.

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