Decency

Decency

[dee-suhn-see]
Decency is conformity to sociocultural standards of conduct and speech.

Standards of decency vary greatly depending on the cultural context. Most nations have laws against indecency which regulate certain sexual acts, and restrict one's ability to display certain parts of the body in public (see indecent exposure).

Definitions of indecency in England and Wales

The terms indecency and indecent have wide application in English law, but are not defined in any legislation. Historically, the words' dictionary definitions (as opposed to legal definitions) helped to resolve legal disputes concerning the scope or application of the terms.

  • In R v Stanley (1965), Lord Parker attempted to differentiate indecency from obscenity:

"The words indecent or obscene convey one idea: namely, offending against the recognised standards of propriety—indecent being at the lower end of the scale and obscene at the upper end of the scale."

  • In Knuller v DPP, Lord Reid said that indecency includes "anything which an ordinary decent man or woman would find to be shocking, disgusting, or revolting."
  • In R v Graham-Kerr (1988), Stocker L. J. said that the appropriate test in the case of the Protection of Children Act 1978 was the application of the "recognised standards of propriety" stated in R v Stamford (1972).

Obscenity is defined in the Obscene Publications Act.

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