BDSM Rights

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BDSM Rights is the belief that people whose sexuality or relationship preferences include BDSM deserve the same human rights as everyone else, and should not be discriminated against for pursuing BDSM with consenting adults.

When confronting discrimination against BDSM by governments, employers or other organisations, the concept of BDSM Rights provides a way of introducing arguments based on human rights laws and conventions. This is particularly relevant in European countries, where the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) provides many of the safeguards which are enshrined in constitutional rights in other countries. This approach of discussion of rights is is limited due to the ability of governments to override personal freedoms for the greater good ("for the protection of health or morals" in the words of the ECHR.) Furthermore, the concept of inalienable rights can be at odds with the consensual nonconsent and edge play.

Please note that legal consent may not create a defense to criminal liability for any injuries caused and that, for these purposes, non-physical injuries are included in the definition of grievous bodily harm.

The relationship between BDSM and the law changes significantly from nation to nation. It is entirely dependent on the legal situation in individual countries whether the practice of BDSM has any criminal relevance or legal consequences. Criminalization of consensually implemented BDSM practices is usually not with explicit reference to BDSM, but results from the fact that such behavior as spanking or cuffing someone could be considered a breach of personal rights, which in principle constitutes a criminal offense. In Germany, Netherlands, Japan and Scandinavia, such behavior is legal in principle. In Austria the legal status is not clear, while in Switzerland some BDSM practices can be considered criminal.

Please note consent also legalizes bodily harm arising in the normal course of surgery, contact sports, ritual circumcision, tattooing and ear piercing. But the law has traditionally been far less accommodating with similar acts and similar levels of harm in different contexts such as BDSM.

Spectacular incidents like the US scandal of People v. Jovanovic and the British Operation Spanner demonstrate the degree to which difficult grey areas can pose a problem for the individuals and authorities involved. It is very important to learn the legal status of the right of consent in the judicial statue of the country of resident for the practitioners of BDSM.

See also: Coming out, and activism.