Sexual entertainment licensing
Produced in partnership with Christopher Grunert of John Gaunt & Partners

The following Local Government practice note produced in partnership with Christopher Grunert of John Gaunt & Partners provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sexual entertainment licensing
  • What is a sex establishment
  • Sex cinemas
  • Sex shops
  • Sexual entertainment venues
  • Hostess bars
  • Power to regulate
  • Consideration of licence
  • Mandatory grounds for refusal
  • Discretionary grounds for refusal
  • More...

Sexual entertainment licensing

What is a sex establishment

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 1982 (as amended) (LG(MP)A 1982) creates four distinct 'sex establishments'. These being:

  1. sex cinemas

  2. sex shops

  3. sex entertainment venues (following the amendments introduced under the Policing and Crime Act 2009), and

  4. Hostess bars (following amendments introduced by the London Local Authorities Act 2007)

Hostess bars are limited in geographic area to Greater London.

Sex cinemas

A sex cinema means: any premise, vehicle, vessel or stall used to a significant degree for the exhibition of moving pictures, by whatever means produced, which are concerned primarily with the portrayal of or primarily deal with or relate to, or are intended to stimulate or encourage sexual activity or acts of force or restraint which are associated with sexual activity or are concerned primarily with the portrayal of, or primarily deal with or relate to, genital organs or urinary or excretory functions.

The content and nature of the film is key to this definition, the method of delivery via celluloid, video or digital means is irrelevant.

The British Board of Film Classification would classify such works R18. R18 is a legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of consenting sex or strong fetish material involving adults.

A sex cinema is defined as a premises that is used to a 'significant degree' for the playing of such works.

The question of what constitutes primarily

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