Sex Toys and the Law


Sex Toys and the Law
Timeline of recent legal event with bearing on sex toys

(a) For the purpose of this Article, "specified sexual activities" is defined as:
(1) Human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal;
(2) Acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse or sodomy;
(3) Fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals, pubic region, buttock
or female breast.
(b) For the purpose of this Article, "specified anatomical areas" is defined as:
(1) Less than completely and opaquely covered:
a. Human genitals pubic region;
b. Buttock;
c. Female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola.
(2) Human male genitals in a discernibly turgid state, even if completely and opaquely covered.

13.1.153 BOOK SALES.
No person, firm or corporation shall establish any bookstore or book department of a
store in which a substantial or significant portion of its stock in trade is in books,
magazines and other periodicals which are distinguished or characterized by their
emphasis on matter depicting, describing or relating to “specified sexual activities" or
"specified anatomical areas," except as provided m Section 1-1-157 hereof.


No person, firm or corporation shall operate any sexual devices store for the display or
sale of sex-stimulating devices, aids to sexual gratification or devices to perform the
functions of male or female genitals or other similar articles or devices, except as
provided in Section 13-1-157.

(a) Such use or uses as prohibited in this Article may be waived, provided that such
building is not located within five hundred (500) feet of any residential dwelling,
rooming unit, school, hospital, church or stores which may be frequented by
children under the age of eighteen (18). This prohibition may be waived off the
person applying for the waiver files with the Common Council a petition of the
proposed regulated use signed by fifty-one percent (51%) of the persons owning,
residing or doing business within a radius of five hundred (500) feet of the
location of the proposed use. The petitioner shall attempt to contact all eligible
locations within this radius and must maintain a list of all addresses at which no
contact was made. A minimum of one hundred (100) responses is required. In
the event that the five hundred (500) feet radius is not sufficiently populated to
provide one hundred (100) residences and/or business places eligible to
respond, the radius will be increased in increments of one hundred (100) feet
until there is an area large enough to contain one hundred (100) eligible
residences and/or business places. In addition to these conditions, such use
shall be subject to final approval by the Zoning Board of Appeals in the same
respect as a special use permit.

The onerous requirement to contact all the owners of both residences and businesses within 500 feet of the proposed store location, and then get at least 51% of those individuals to sign the petition to waive this ban, and that there must be at least 100 signatures for such a waiver to be considered, is certain to keep all but the most determined business owner away from this community, as is the intent of the ordinance.
Other zoning ordinances allow the sale of “sexual devices,” but restrict the location of stores selling such items to manufacturing zones only, effectively taking them out of the mainstream shopping areas and stigmatizing these stores by their location.
Still others, such as the one in Milwaukee, restrict the amount of space one can utilize to sell sexually-related products:

15. ADULT RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT means an establishment in which 10 % or more of the gross public floor area is devoted to, or 10% or more of the stock-in-trade consists of, the following: books, magazines and other periodicals, movies, videotapes, compact discs, digital versatile discs, novelty items, games, greeting cards and other materials which are distinguished or characterized by their emphasis on matters depicting, describing or relating to specified sexual activities: human genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal; acts of human masturbation, sexual intercourse, oral copulation or sodomy; fondling or other erotic touching of human genitals (pubic region), buttocks or female breasts; or specified anatomical areas.

While there is a right to privacy, it is clear that municipalities still have the right to make pursuit of personal pleasure difficult. Many municipalities are adding more stringent restrictions to their zoning laws, marginalizing “adult shops” or forcing stores to diversify their inventory or call their products “educational models” (as one shop in Austin, Texas does) rather than “dildos”. The federal government is also stepping up their prosecutions of “obscene” materials’ distribution, with statements by the Attorney General that he would consider prosecuting mainstream adult materials, “not just the kinky stuff” (said during his confirmation hearing).
It is prudent to be aware of the laws regarding both what is obscene, and what can and cannot be bought and sold as sexually-related products, and where these products can(t) be sold. There is no recognized right to “sexual happiness and pleasure,” and those who wish to legislate “morality” are using every tool available to limit access to information and items that may enhance one’s sexual health and/or pleasure.

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