'Into The River' decision

14 October 2015

The Film and Literature Board of Review's decision on 'Into The River' has been released. (Warning: these documents contain quotations of words which describe sexual behaviour by young people, and words which may be offensive): 

Background Summary 

Into the River was published in 2012 and referred to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (The Censor) in July 2013 following complaints from the public. In September 2013 the book was classified M (Unrestricted: Suitable for mature audiences 16 years of age and over) with a descriptive note that it contains sex scenes, offensive language and drug use.  This means there was no restriction on its availability.

This classification decision was referred to the Film and Literature Board of Review (the Board), which is the appeal authority for classification decisions made by the Censor. The Board classified it as R14, that is ‘objectionable in the hands of anyone under the age of 14’. This made it unlawful to display or give or sell the book to anyone under that age. Under the law age limits (R18,16 etc.) are not specified. An R14 classification had not previously been made. This was a majority decision. The President, dissenting, argued for an R18 classification.

Following an application making a case that the R14 classification was having the unintended side-effect of making it difficult for people 14 and over to access the book from libraries, the Censor then classified the book again in August 2015, again making it unrestricted.  The Censor has not previously reviewed a decision of the Board. The Act provides that to reconsider a publication within 3 years requires “special circumstances”.

The group that originally sought the first review by the FLBR then sought a second review.

The President made an interim restriction order which prevented the book being provided to anyone, or displayed or exhibited in or within view of a public place. The order did not make existing copies objectionable, or make it unlawful to possess them (except for the purposes of supply or distribution). 

Today’s decision means that the interim restriction order is no longer in place.

The relevant law is the Films, Videos and Publications Act 1993

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