As bondage and BDSM lovers, sometimes we enjoy inflicting pain or being on the receiving end of a good beating or spanking. But as consenting adults, how can we avoid possible legal problems or even criminal charges? Fetish.com explains a bit about the law and how you can protect yourself...


With our planned safe words and carefully negotiates scenes, it’s fair to assume that people on the BDSM scene are as savvy, if not more so, than non-kinksters when it comes to consent.

Nevertheless, in some places, just because we get off on physical punishment and badass adult romping, we are all in danger of breaking the law on assault. What about the possibility of BDSM legal issues?

The legal side of BDSM is not covered by a specific UK law, but technically no one can give their consent to an act which causes them bodily harm. So how do boxers and piercing artists not end up in jail? Well, there’s a loophole; if consent is given and a prosecution is not in the public interest, then no crime occurred and no one is charged.

So, why do members of the fetish community occasionally end up dealing with the legal side of S&M, following a mutually consented and enjoyable encounter? And how do we inflict or feel consensual pain without facing assault charges?

The legal position was explained during a trial in 1990 which became notorious in the BDSM community: the Spanner Case. It resulted in 16 gay men – all of whom were willing participants – receiving prison sentences for their S&M activities.

In the aftermath, Judge Rant said that in the eyes of the law, momentary or slight pain was acceptable in cases of consensual sadomasochism, but lasting marks were not. This means whipping, caning and even spanking could potentially cause BDSM legal issues and be classed as assault, but having your nose broken in a rugby scrum remains perfectly legal.

 

BDSM legal issues: "a moral concern"

As Dan Savage says, this kind of play is just cops 'n' robbers for adults, with no pants on. Still, often the legal side of S&M is brought into question because of moral concern.

The kinky element attracts media attention because S&M is seen by many as a bizarre subculture, and the press love a juicy bondage story. Without mainstream or legal acceptance, the kinky lifestyle continues to be misunderstood and that can leave us vulnerable to outside intervention.

the legal side of bdsm
The law isn't so flexible when it comes to BDSM

There are multiple reasons why a consensual sadomasochistic episode might get reported to someone official who then decides to take it further. For example, marks might be seen on a person’s body during a sporting activity or medical examination, alarming a coach or doctor.

Even if bruises are explained away, once it’s caught their attention, a sense of responsibility often compels a professional to contact the police. Only a minority of people are fetish-aware enough to understand diverse sexual preferences, but more understanding at this stage would save a lot of hassle and heartache.

Occasionally, the police can become involved due to darker motivations. It’s not unknown for a relationship breakdown or jealousy to result in a jilted partner taking revenge. They might report a play party where some pretty harsh S&M scenes are due to unfold in order to provoke a police raid, or make a complaint about a participant they dislike.

These toxic possibilities are yet another reason to use judgement when choosing who to get kinky with, and never overstepping the mark when you’re in a position of power.

 

Photos out of context

Many S&M players love to record their activities for lusting after later, or to share with an appreciative sadomasochistic audience. However, photos or videos that fall into the wrong hands, or find their way onto social media, can result in abuse or assault charges if the police stumble upon them.

BDSM legal issues are partly why the lifestyle remains on the margins; people aren’t keen to be open about their preferences when it can be misconstrued as abuse.

Expressing your sexuality with similarly kink-minded partners is a pleasure most of us can and do take for granted. Although the grey legal area surrounding BDSM can be a thorn in all of our sides, never let fear or misinformation change who you are. Protecting yourself from being wrongly accused of a crime is part of life in the fetish community, but all it really takes is common sense.

 

It's good to talk

If you're taking a kinky partner home for a night of bondage play, make sure you’ve got to know them sufficiently beforehand and can trust them. Take time to chat about what you are both happy to do, establish whether penetrative sex will be involved at some point and discuss what safe words you’d prefer to use.

Leave cameras out of the bedroom or hold off until a relationship is well established. Images can easily be evidence, and once they’re taken, there’s no going back.

There are physical and psychological consequences of being involved in rough sex, too. That’s why aftercare is a significant aspect of BDSM. However, as willing and informed adult participants, we are the ones who make the decisions on our sexual pleasure.
 

Do you worry about the law when it comes to BDSM? Had any problems? Let us know in the comments below or in the Forum. And if you’re new to Fetish.com, why not sign up for a free membership and get more out of your time here with our sex positive, kinky community!


Photos: DoktorKan / sakkmesterke / Dollar Photo Club

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[…] events are different and have different challenges and goals. For example, consensual beatings are illegal in my city, but this event gets around that by calling it improvisational theater, and this event is public […]

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