BDSM and the Law
|IANAL ("I Am Not A Lawyer"): The Webmaster is not a lawyer and this section is not offered as legal advice or an attempt to interpret the law. These links are a starting point -- not the final word on legal issues. I do not mean to endorse a site or article by including a resource here. For reliable legal advice, you must talk to a real lawyer.|
C O N T E N T S
- The Law as it Relates to BDSM
- Specific Cases
- Sex Laws
- Interacting with Law Enforcement
- Pertinent Texas Laws, Codes, and Resources
- Find a Kink Friendly Lawyer in San Antonio
- Leftist, Liberal, and Libertarian: Editorials, Opinions, and Arguments
- General Law Resources and References
- Copyright and Link Laws: in the Internet and Webdesign section
- Privacy Issues: on the Privacy page
- Privacy Advocate and Civil Liberty Groups
- Historical Documents
- Quotes on Freedom, Liberty, and Security
- Information For Law Enforcement
The Law as it Relates to BDSM
- The Law, S/M and You by
A. Spencer Bergstedt, Attorney At Law. (legal advice from a real lawyer.)
- Improving the Legal Standing of Non-Traditional Relationships by
- The NLA-I Law Project: The National Leather Association is looking for volunteers in a nationwide project to recognize the legal status of BDSM in various localities.
- BDSM-LegalIssues mailing list:
This list is dedicated to legal issues surrounding BDSM as a consentual lifestyle, businesses whose major trade or product caters to people who engage in BDSM, and groups who are looking to discuss legal issues as they endeavor to set up groups/clubs/organizations. This list is primarily geared toward the United States, but certainly opinions from Europe, Australia, Canada, and other areas can add new perspective to issues. Throughout the US, more play space is being developed, more parties are being held, and more people keep getting arrested. This list will encourage open discussion of federal, state and municipal law and how organizations have dealt with law enforcement and government agencies. Appropriate topics may include, but are not restricted to: risk management, constitutional law, personal injury and safety, operational issues, sodomy and prostitution law.
Specific Legal Cases
- Attleboro: Assault On Common Sense an editorial in the July 27 - August 3, 2000 issue of the Boston Phoenix : "The Attleboro S&M Bust Is An Outrageous Instance of police misconduct compounded by prosecutorial abuse. In a small sense, the outrageous recent police raid on a sadomasochistic party in Attleboro is evidence of progress: media reports have focused not just on the details of the case, but also on the terrible judgment shown by law-enforcement officials for pressing criminal charges in response to activities engaged in by consenting adults."
- Jovanovic: The People vs. Oliver Jovanovic: the Text of the NY Supreme Court Decision.
- Jovanovic: People v. Jovanovic: The Cybersex Hoax
- Jovanovic: Justice for Oliver Jovanovic
- Spanner: Spanner on the Web "the (sort of) official Spanner Web page for SM Rights"
- Spanner: Text of Final Judgement on Spanner Case: Case of several men in Britain who were arrested for consensual sadomasochism.
- Spanner: "Police Free Gay Slaves": Some Juridico-Legal Consequences of the Discursive Distinctions Between the Sexualities by Ben Attias.
- The Age of Consent website.
- Queer Legal Resources
- Sexuality, Gender, and the Law: National and International
Interacting with Law Enforcement
- BDSM Gone Bad: Reporting Non-Consensual "Play" and Rape to the APD by
- What to do if you're stopped by The Police: A Guide from the ACLU
- How Police Interrogation Works by Julia Layton
- Confessions: Police Interrogation, Due Process, and Self-Incrimination from FindLaw.com
- Dominance and Submission: How the Police Use Psychological Manipulation to Interrogate Citizens by Dylan Kurz
- Two Videos: "Don't Talk to the Police"
- Don't Talk to the Police by Professor James Duane. 27 min video - May 21, 2008: James Duane explains why innocent people should never talk to the police.
- The Other Side of the Story by Officer George Bruch. 21 min - May 21, 2008: George Bruch from the Virginia Beach police department responds to Professor James Duane's presentation on why innocent people should never talk to the police.
- BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters. 45 min - Nov 30, 2006: How to exercise your constitutional rights during encounters with police. (From the FlexYourRights.org/.)
Pertinent Texas Laws, Codes, and Resources
- American Law Sources On-line includes a section on Texas Law
- Texas Legal Research at the FindLaw website
- Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commision enforces the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Chapter 104 is for the regulation of retailers. It reads in part "No person authorized to sell beer at retail, nor his agent, servant, or employee, may engage in or permit conduct on the premises of the retailer which is lewd, immoral, or offensive to public decency, ..."
- Texas Law on the Lambda Legal and Education Fund site
- Texas Courts Online: http://www.courts.state.tx.us
- Texas Legislature Online: http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/
- Municipal Code Corporation maintains lists of municipal codes including the municipal code for San Antonio.
- The Texas Documents Information Network-List: a service of the University of Houston Law Libraries.
- The People's Lawyer website includes a a copy of the Texas "Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogate" (living will) and a "Medical Power of Attorney for Health Care" as well as instuctions.
- Unity Foundation: an IRS §501(c)(3) tax-exempt Texas nonprofit corporation serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of San Antonio, Texas
Find a Kink Friendly Lawyer in San Antonio
- your local ACLU Affiliate Office: http://www.aclu.org/affiliates/
- Kink Aware Professionals Directory is a national list of Doctors, Lawyers, and Professionals who are knowledgable and friendly toward the scene. If you know of some please notify the list's maintainer and drop us a note as well.
- If the lawyer doesn't have to be kink friendly, you can start with San Antonio Lawyers Referral Services 210-227-1853 and the San Antonio Community Law Ctr. 210-271-9595.
If you're looking for a kink friendly attorney, I'd suggest starting with the following resources
Leftist, Liberal, and Libertarian: Editorials, Opinions, and Arguments
- Government's Power to Require "Good Morals" and Adherence to Traditional Values by Paul Kovach and Michael Romanello. While written for the Gay and Lesbian community, it's also relevant for the BDSM scene.
- Sexuality, Consent, and the Law in the United States by Ben Attias
- Quotes on Freedom, Liberty, and Security
General Law Resources and References
- APB Online
- Cornell's Legal Information Institute
- www.cybercrime.gov, from the U.S. Justice Department's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS), is a Cybercrime website which defines computer crime, instructs how to report it, lists the department's latest thinking on privacy vs. policing on the Internet, and shows how the government searches and seizes computers. The site includes sections on
- Reports, press releases, speech texts and testimony,
Speech Issues in the High-tech Context,
Privacy Issues in the High-tech Context,
Laws against computer crime and press releases on significant hacker cases,
Crimes facilitated by computer use,
The department manual on searching and seizing computers,
Answers to frequently asked questions about encryption,
How to report privacy violations for investigation,
International efforts against computer crime and child pornography, and
Data on law enforcement cooperation against computer crime
- The FindLaw Search Engine at FindLaw.com
- Law News Network
- The Librarians' Index to the Internet: Law
- Martindale-Hubbell's Lawyer Locator
- Nolo.com Self-Help Law Center
- U.S. Supreme Court
- Supreme Court Collection from Cornell University's Legal Information Institute
- Uniform Code of Military Justice
Copyright and Link Laws
- Privacy: A list of resources on the very important issues of privacy it relates to BDSM.
- Coping with Identity Theft from the Privacy Rights Clearning House site at http://www.privacyrights.org/
Privacy Advocate and Civil Liberty Groups
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Center for Democracy and Technology
- Citizens Internet Empowerment Coalition (CIEC) is "a broad group of Internet users, library groups, publishers, online service providers, and civil liberties groups fighting for the future of the First Amendment and the future of free expression in the Information age." CIEC "came together to oppose Congress' first attempt to regulate content on the Internet, the Communications Decency Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional on June 26, 1997. This site is being preserved as a resource on the landmark CDA case."
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- Internet Privacy Coalition
- Lambda Legal and Education Fund
- The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom engages in national advocacy on issues related to sexual identity, expression and orientation by participating in the development of public policy and by supporting positive media presentations of diverse sexual practices. NCSF is a voluntary, not-for-profit association that offers a free membership to individuals and organizations who support the rights of adults to engage in safe, sane and consensual sexual expression.
- National Lawyers Guild: "an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system."
- Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.: People who practice alternative sexual expression can sometimes find themselves in trouble. Like the "Paddleboro" defendants in Massachusetts, they may be charged with crimes under archaic laws. They may face the loss of custody of their children. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. has been established to help people who find themselves in this kind of trouble. Valerie White, the agency's executive director, says the new agency hopes for several responses to this announcement. "We hope people who need financial assistance with legal fees and the expenses of litigation will contact us for help. We hope lawyers and child-development specialists who are willing to work with this population will permit us to put them in a referral database. And we hope people who share our dedication to sexual freedom will help us build our fund." In the first week it was in business, the group received five inquiries. It has already made a grant to help a woman find an expert witness in a child custody case. The agency has applied for 501c3 status as a tax exempt organization. "We want to focus on alternative sexual expression among consenting adults, like polyamory, swinging, BDSM, fetishism and so forth" White says. "GLBT folks already have a great resource in the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund."
Contact the new non-profit at:
Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.URL: http://www.sfldef.org
156 Massapoag Ave.
Sharon, MA 02067
- The Woodhull Freedom Foundation: Victoria Woodhull was the out-spoken, “racy” activist who introduced sex-positivist values to America during the Victorian era. She believed that both men and women had a right to “free love" without government or public intervention. Throughout the 1870s, she lectured and published, arguing against society’s sexual double standard. Woodhull advocated sexual satisfaction and love for all, legal prostitution, the right to multiple partners, and supported people’s abilities to make their own decisions about consensual sexual activities.
"To those who denounce me, I reply: Yes I am a free lover. I have an inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please." - Victoria Woodhull
Woodhull Freedom FoundationURL: http://www.woodhullfoundation.org/
1312 18th St NW Suite 103
Washington, DC 20036
- Declaration of Independence (U.S.A.): http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/DeclarInd.html
- Constitution of the United States of America:
Information For Law Enforcement
For police and lawyers who are interested in BDSM in a professional capacity.
- Information for Professionals Confronted with Erotic Power Exchange: "Serious background information for people, confronted with erotic power exchange in their profession" from the POWERotics Foundation
- Information for Media: part of BDSM Background Information, a series of articles from the POWERotics Foundation
- EPE and law enforcement 1: part of BDSM Background Information, a series of articles from the POWERotics Foundation
- EPE and law enforcement 2: part of BDSM Background Information, a series of articles from the POWERotics Foundation
- An Open Letter to Law Enforcement by Ambrosio: An open letter to law enforcement from someone in the BDSM community who wants to explain some ways in which BDSM is not domestic violence.
- "Law Enforcement Field Guide to SM" at http://www.ncsfreedom.org/eop/files/fieldguide.pdf from The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: http://www.ncsfreedom.org/
- BDSM vs. Abuse by Sir Bamm! (This article includes a "Probable Cause or Consensual BDSM" section.)
- About Dawn Perlmutter and her claims about dark "subcultures":
- Dawn Perlmutter's "Dark Subculture" Witch Hunt by Ambrosio
- "Dawn Perlmutter and her Institute for the Research of Organized and Ritual Violence" by Diane Vera: http://www.theisticsatanism.com/asp/people/Perlmutter/
- "Dawn Perlmutter's claims about various "dark" subcultures (Goth, Vampire, Fetish, BDSM, Body Art)" by Diane Vera: http://www.theisticsatanism.com/asp/people/Perlmutter/dark.html
- Sheldon LaGrange's Amazon.com Book Review of Investigating Religious Terrorism and Ritualistic Crimes
- Please also visit Abuse vs. BDSM section of this site.