Irvine Welsh in new censorship row as Malta university bans ‘obscene’ book

By Mark Smith
HIS ability to shock liberal-minded readers has somewhat diminished over the years.
But Scottish author Irvine Welsh has again raised hackles over the visceral content of his books – in Malta. The sedate island is in the midst of a major debate over strict censorship laws, which dictate that anything “obscene or pornographic” shoulADVERTISEMENTd not be freely available to the public.

Now it has emerged that the island’s university library has moved Irvine Welsh’s novel Porno “under lock and key” behind the counter, alongside books such as a biography of the Marquis de Sade.

The 2002 novel is the sequel to Welsh’s breakthrough novel Trainspotting.

It features characters Renton, Spud, Sickboy and Begbie ten years on, this time with the pornography business as the backdrop rather than heroin use.

However, their antics have proved too hot to handle for Maltese librarians.

Ingram Bondin, from the island’s Front Against Censorship, spoke out during a debate last week, claiming the ban on Welsh’s novel was “a classic case of censorship”. The Front has come up with a number of proposals to update the island’s censorship laws.

It wants to change the fact that someone facing charges of vilification of the Roman Catholic religion can face imprisonment on the island.

All literature is checked for obscene or pornographic material by a centrally appointed Classification Board, a practice it wants abolished.

The strict laws have recently seen the 21-year-old editor of student newspaper Realtà threatened with jail for publishing a short story. Front Against Censorship leader Mark Camilleri said: “Censorship has increased and is being used to suppress arts. But the government is not budging.”

Welsh is no stranger to having his work targeted by the authorities. Scenes of rape, dog killing and drug taking, among other things, have often brought bans.

His play, You’ll Have Had Your Hole, was reportedly banned in Belgium, while the Chinese authorities have refused to allow several of his titles to be sold there.

The Edinburgh-born writer was not available for comment last night on his latest brush with the authorities.

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