When censorship laws were relaxed last year, theatre buffs rejoiced thinking that no play would suffer the same fate as Anthony Neilson’s Stitching.

We will not hamper artistic and cultural development through censorship

Censors had stopped the play on a number of grounds, including the use of an obscenity in connection with the words “Jesus Christ”.

The ban caused uproar but Culture Parliamentary Secretary Jose Herrera believes the changes to the law were only “half-baked”, and a play with adult content may still be stopped.

He raised the issue last week during a dialogue meeting as part of the Cabinet’s drive to meet people, when he argued in favour of regulating theatre productions and films that had adult themes.

Elaborating on his argument, Dr Herrera yesterday told The Sunday Times of Malta that the criminal code still barred public nudity.

“The police will have no option but to arrest and prosecute according to criminal law if a play or film has an adult theme or content even though it would have been cleared by the classification board,” he insisted.

Dr Herrera suggested legal provisions that will allow the minister to designate theatres where a play containing adult content deemed to be of artistic value is being staged as special places. The regulations will stipulate among others that no posters be affixed outside, he added.

“In this way we will leave the criminal code as is to protect public morality, not hamper artistic and cultural development through censorship but shield those productions with an adult theme from the implications of criminal action,” Dr Herrera said.

He insisted that his suggestion did not refer to pornography or the regulation of adult cinemas.

ksansone@timesofmalta.com

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