Is Lolicon Legal in Canada?

By Last Updated: October 6, 2023

What Is Lolicon?

Is Lolicon Legal in CanadaLolicon is a type of fictional, visual media that is born out of Japanese culture. While somewhat ambiguous in its definition, generally this type of media depicts young-looking, cartoon girls in romanticized or sexualized milieus. Writer Patrick W. Galbraith in his book entitled The Ethics of Affect: Line and Life in a Tokyo Neighbourhood describes lolicon as loosely defined. Some tend to define lolicon by the age of the characters depicted, while others rely on a definition associated more with appearance (e.g., through the size or portrayal of sexualized body parts). More broadly it may be considered anime – however, it is specific to sexual imagery

Is Lolicon Legal in Canada?

Because of the ambiguity around lolicon’s definition, the answer to this question is not black and white. However, the law on child pornography is fairly straightforward in Canada. The leading seminal case on this matter is a decision from the Supreme Court of Canada known as R v Sharpe, 2001 SCC 2 (Sharpe). Sharpe upholds section 163.1 of the Criminal Code as constitutional. Section 163.1(1) of the Criminal Code which defines “child pornography” reads:

Definition of child pornography

1(1) In this section, child pornography means

(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,

(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or

(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years;

(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;

(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or

(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.

One of the bigger issues in Sharpe was the definition of “person” as used in s. 163.1(1)(a)(i) and whether the term “person” applies to only “actual, as opposed to imaginary persons”. On this, the Supreme Court of Canada said:

The available evidence suggests that explicit sexual materials can be harmful whether or not they depict actual children.  Moreover, with the quality of contemporary technology, it can be very difficult to distinguish a “real” person from a computer creation or composite.  Interpreting “person” in accordance with Parliament’s purpose of criminalizing possession of material that poses a reasoned risk of harm to children, it seems that it should include visual works of the imagination as well as depictions of actual people.  Notwithstanding the fact that “person” in the charging section and in s. 163.1(1)(b) refers to a flesh-and-blood person, I conclude that “person” in s. 163.1(1)(a) includes both actual and imaginary human beings. 

Therefore, the answer to this question depends on what exactly is being depicted in the lolicon. If the image depicts a person underage who is engaged in explicit sexual activity then it is illegal to possess/distribute.

Can You Draw Lolicon In Canada?

Sharpe has also carved out the rule on creating “expressive material”. The exception to child pornography laws in Canada is where the material is self-created and for self-expression. In other words, this is any written material or visual representation created by the accused alone, and held by the accused alone, exclusively for his or her own personal use. Therefore, you can draw Lolicon in Canada so long as it is not accessible to anyone besides the illustrator (see: R v Sharpe, 2001 SCC 2 at para 115).

Can You View Lolicon In Canada?

Besides the exception discussed above (self-created material), accessing child pornography is illegal as per s. 163.1(4.1) of the Criminal Code. This means that unless the material is created by you and is exclusively available to only you, viewing lolicon should it depict underage characters in sexually explicit or compromising ways is illegal in Canada.

Is It Illegal To Distribute Lolicon In Canada?

Distributing lolicon is illegal where the depictions within the lolicon are considered to be child pornography within the s. 163.1(1) Criminal Code definition. The definition of child pornography is discussed in the section above entitled “Is Lolicon Legal in Canda”. Lolicon that depicts underage characters in sexually explicit or sexually compromised ways can not be distributed in Canada as this is contrary to s. 161(3) of the Criminal Code.

When Should I Speak With A Lawyer?

As a general rule of thumb, consult a lawyer whenever you’re unsure.

Our firm provides free consultations and often this is standard practice amongst criminal defence firms in Canada. If you possess material you think may be illegal, you come across material you are uncertain of, or are facing charges related to child pornography (possession, accessing, distributing, etc.) then call our office. Your conversation with a lawyer is privileged and there is no harm in being overly cautious, especially when it comes to uncertainty around breaking the law.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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