Adult Film Censorship information

The aim of this page is to provide a brief overview of the changing standards of the Adult film X-rating, and an explanation of what you can and cannot expect to find in our Adult Film Censorship Database.



Adult films the database does contain

Adult films that have been Refused Classification by the Australian Censors since January 2000. Some were later edited by distributors to achieve X18+ ratings, others were abandoned.


Adult films that have been confiscated by the Australian Customs Service (ACS). Some of these may also have been Refused Classification by the Australian Censors, whilst others were decided by Customs themselves. The only way to document these titles is information supplied by you. If customs have taken a hardcore film of yours, then send in the details for inclusion in the database.



Adult films the database does not contain

The majority films classified X18+ have pre-cut before submission because the distributor feared censorship problems. This may have involved overdubbing dialogue that could fall foul of the 'sexually assaultive language' entry in the guidelines, pixelation of banned acts such as fisting and golden showers, and finally the cutting out altogether of controversial scenes. The distributors are essentially trying to predict what the Classification Board may find offensive. Classification and appeals are an expensive business, so you can hardly blame them for taking these kinds of precautionary measures. It is worth noting that those titles that have been subjected to this kind of in-house censorship will still be listed in the censor's database as original versions. The true extent of the censorship is therefore hidden from the public.


We have no way of knowing the number of titles that are not even considered by Distributors because they are too controversial. Since the change in the guidelines in 2000 there has been a decrease in the amount of European hardcore that has been picked up for distribution. At the same time, the quantity of American product has increased.


Adult films that have been censored down to achieve an R-rating. There exists a market censored R18+ adult product due to it being illegal to rent or sell X18+ within any of the States. These are the only kind of adult titles you can legally rent in your local video store. These particular tapes have been very heavily censored to remove all of the hardcore sex. This can mean the censoring of anything up to an hour or more of footage. To make things easier we have not included these titles. Quite simply, if it is a hardcore feature, and rated R18+, then it is definitely censored. 


In general, most adult films submitted by government agencies, such as the Police, or Office of Fair Trading, are not included in our database. See the Classification Board's database for these titles.


Adult films submitted between November 1971 and January 1984, although some do appear in our Film Censorship Database. Hardcore was not legalised in Australia until the introduction of the X18+ rating on February 1st 1984. Prior to this, all adult films were classified by the board with R-ratings, meaning that the distributors had to remove all traces of hardcore sex.


Adult titles submitted between February 1984 and December 1999 are not covered at present. It is worth noting that some of the titles passed during this period would now be banned because of the tightening of the X18+ guidelines in 2000.



Changing rating standards

The X18+ rating was introduced on February 1st 1984 to cover hardcore adult films. However, the States soon moved to outlaw the sale or rental of any feature that fell into this classification. Currently it is only legal to buy or rent X18+ rated features in the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory. It is however legal for people in the States to mail-order X18+ product from the ACT or NT.

In 2000, the Industry agreed to a tightening of the guidelines, providing that the X18+ would be scrapped and be replaced with a NVE (Non-violent erotica) rating. It was hoped that this would be much more acceptable to the States. Unfortunately, this backfired and the X18+ was retained, while the guidelines were tightened.

While the sale and rental of X-rated films remains banned in all States, the distributors based in the ACT and NT can supply them by mail order. This has lead to a situation where many adult shops in some States simply ignore the classifications altogether. Consequently, much more extreme material can be currently be found for sale or rental in Sydney, than in the ACT where hardcore is legal, but strictly policed. 

See our Timeline of Australian Film and Video Censorship for more information.



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