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Bishop of Chester: Pornography as dangerous as smoking or gambling

Rt Revd Peter Forster's been raising awareness of the dangers of porn in the House of Lords after securing a two and a half hour debate on Thursday.

While acknowledging that the issue of children's access to pornography needed to be addressed, he suggests it's an issue that's affecting the whole of society.

Bishop Peter said the issue had split the house with some calling for tighter controls and others suggesting it isn't something that should be looked at from a legislation point of view because it's a private matter.

Speaking to Premier he said he disagrees with that argument.

"I heard people say that about smoking 30 or 40 years ago, that the link between smoking and disease was uncertain.

"The innocent argument has to be put under the microscope and that's what I wanted to do today."

His concerns have been backed up by the Christian charity CARE.

CEO Nola Leach said: "The Bishop of Chester is right to be seeking to raise awareness of this vital issue and we need new ideas and policy responses from the Government.

"In recent years we've recognised the need to protect children from online pornography and now it is time to start recognising the negative effects of porn on adults too.

"Although porn addiction is not yet clinically defined, evidence clearly suggests addiction to pornography is real and has devastating consequences for satisfying and lasting relationships as well as leading to unemployment.

Speaking in the debate, Culture, media and sport minister Baroness Shields said it was not for the Government to "dictate to consenting adults what sort of content they are legally accessing," but remained mindful of the potential harm for the young and vulnerable.

"Long term 'excessive use of pornography' had been shown in some studies to have a damaging effect but more information was needed.

"We agree that pornography should be considered as another potential category of addiction."

Listen to Bishop Peter speaking to Premier's Marcus Jones.

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