Campaign to remove lads' mags from high street stores

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High street retailers are being warned they risk legal action if they do not remove magazines that display sexual images on their front covers

High street retailers are being warned they may face legal action for displaying highly sexualised men's magazines on their shelves.

The warning comes from lawyers and other supporters of the Lose the Lads' Mags campaign launched by UK Feminista and Object.

In a letter to the Guardian, they say that the display of magazines featuring pornographic front covers, as well as asking staff to handle them, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

"Similarly, exposing customers to these publications in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act," they say.

The campaign groups say there have been successful lawsuits by employees against their employers for exposure to pornographic material at work.

"Displaying lads' mags and pornographic papers in 'mainstream' shops results in the involuntary exposure of staff and, in some cases, customers to pornographic images." the letter reads.

"There are, in particular, examples of staff successfully suing employers in respect of exposure to pornographic material at work.

"Such exposure is actionable where it violates the dignity of individual employees or customers, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. We therefore call on such retailers to urgently heed the call to Lose the Lads' Mags."

Steve Legg, founder of Christian men's magazine Sorted, believes most men are not looking for magazines with pictures of "half-naked women" but publications that are "relevant, informed" and "don't patronise them or objectify women".

The magazine has proved a hit and was added to WHSmith stores last year.  It is also handed out for free in the London Underground, bars, airport departure gates, gyms and universities.

"Suitable for men of all ages, backgrounds and religious beliefs (or lack of), Sorted is designed to stimulate the mind rather than the libido," said Legg.

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