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Bishop of Chester opens pornography debate in House of Lords

Bishop Peter says porn has 'pernicious effects' on individuals and society

The Bishop of Chester will lead a debate on the impact of pornography on society in the House of Lords on Guy Fawkes’ Day.

Rt Revd Dr Peter Forster, who has long-held concerns about modern attitudes towards sexuality, will open next Thursday’s debate after his subject was drawn out in a ballot.

When the now defunct Chester lap dancing club Platinum Lounge moved to full nudity it was condemned by the bishop who offered an insight into his views on human sexuality.

He said at the time: “I dislike all activities which either demean and exploit other human beings, or which separate human sexual attraction from its proper basis in responsible human relationships.”

The former Platinum Lounge premises in Bridge Street Row, Chester

Back in July, Bishop Peter spoke during the second reading debate of Baroness Howe’s Online Safety Bill when he welcomed the Bill and called for further measures to help adults addicted to online pornography.

He told his peers: “There is an illuminating parallel between addiction to pornography and addiction to gambling.

“However, whereas the economic and social costs of gambling are relatively well understood, the equivalent damage caused by adult addiction to pornography is much less appreciated in our society.

“Research findings across a number of studies suggest that the use of pornography in an addictive way is a significant factor in at least half of all relationship breakdowns.

“The leading UK health website NetDoctor states: ‘Various experts from Relate and the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapy...have reported that solitary use of porn is a huge factor in relationship breakdown and that it is ‘spiralling out of control’.”

He added: “There are many more examples of expert testimony that could indicate that adult addiction to porn has pernicious effects, not only on individuals and their close relationships but on wider society.

“This has to be set in the context of the huge cost to the Exchequer, which means to all of us, of relationship breakdown. The latest estimate from the Relationships Foundation is no less than £47 billion a year.

“Even if that figure can be disputed and it is, say, only half that, it is still a huge amount of money and more than 50 times the amount that will be saved this year by the so-called bedroom tax or spare room subsidy, which has attracted so much attention but is only a fraction of the cost of the effect of pornography in our society.

“Beyond the direct financial costs there are other impacts on society, not least the effect on women in the workplace who see colleagues misusing equipment to access pornography.”

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