NCSF on TwitterSubscribe to the NCSF RSS FeedNCSF Blog

NCSF Headlines

Consent Counts Mission Statement

OUR MISSION: 

Mission: To decriminalize consensual BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance/submission, sadomasochism) in U.S. law by ensuring that consent will be recognized as a defense to criminal charges brought under assault laws and other statutes.

Unlike most other sexual issues (rape, for example), BDSM activities—a “scene”, a dungeon party, a Dominant/submissive or Master/slave relationship—can result in a criminal prosecution and conviction even where the activity is entirely consensual. It’s important to remember that most BDSM activities are treated as violence and not sex. This is not speculation; in 2010, NCSF’s incident response help line received 204 requests for help concerning criminal prosecutions.

NCSF’s research of cases throughout the United States revealed that not a single appellate court decision has allowed consent as a defense to a BDSM-based criminal prosecution for assault, sexual abuse, etc. Even where a state law allows the consent defense in cases that do not involve “serious bodily injury,” appellate courts have ruled that the use of nipple clamps or hot wax produces “serious bodily injury”.

The realization that our communities are at risk of criminal prosecution led to the launch of the “Consent Counts” initiative in 2006 at a Leather Leadership Roundtable at NGLTF’s Creating Change. At this Roundtable and one held subsequently at the Leather Leadership Conference, decriminalization of consensual BDSM was determined to be the number one priority of the BDSM/Leather/Fetish communities.  It was subsequently determined that NCSF would take a leadership and coordinating role.  This is, with the related initiative to change the way BDSM is viewed by psychiatry in the DSM criteria, NCSF’s most important project.

Our “Consent Counts” initiative is multi-faceted. We have researched the statutes, court decisions and relevant law review articles in all 50 states, and the results of that research are available on the NCSF website. We are presenting programs and holding meetings with our communities across the country, to build understanding of the issues and to develop consensus on an effective approach to nationwide activism. A national discussion guide has been created to facilitate local discussions to assist in the drafting of a community-wide statement on consent at LLC at Seattle 2013 with the goal of decriminalization and to promote local and national activism.  This aspect of our initiative also includes an EOP focused on Frequently Asked Questions about the criminal law issues and on Best Practices by which individuals and groups can reduce the likelihood of prosecution and—equally important—enable us to argue more effectively that what we do is mutually pleasurable erotic activity (not violence) and
that care is taken to ensure consensuality and avoid excessive stimulation or unintended harm. In addition, NCSF has published primers for both alleged victims and for those accused of consent violations.

The activism aspect of “Consent Counts” will be equally multifaceted. We have already begun reaching out to law enforcement, to legislators and to educators. In the coming year, we will be presenting continuing legal education (CLE) programs to lawyers, working with bar associations and law student groups, and participating selectively with “friend of the court” briefs in legal cases. Further down the road is the development of grass roots activism to change state laws and law enforcement practices.

In all of this, we need your help. You can report BDSM-related criminal investigations and prosecutions to NCSF. Your local groups can host “Consent Counts” presentations and discussions on activism strategies and on community practices that can help avoid criminal problems. As we go forward, we are seeking volunteers for various forms of activism and educational outreach. And, of course, your continuing donations to the NCSF Foundation (tax-deductible) and NCSF are essential for making this project effective.


Media

{youtube}bi1DNB_SeaQ{/youtube} Adding Bondage/Sadomasochism to Sexual Orientation Laws

  • NCSF’s 2014 Roundup
    NCSF’s 2014 Roundup    2014 has been a year of progress for NCSF and for people who are kinky and nonmonogamous. The national conversation about gay marriage, consent, and even Fifty Shades of Grey are transforming mainstream attitudes. The change in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 stating that BDSM is a healthy form of sexual expression has also had a significant impact on both the courts and public opinion about kink.   Education Outreach Project  The NCSF Board Members and presenters gave Education Outreach Project workshops and tabled at 36 events in 2014 (compared to 22 in 2013), with a…
  • National Coalition for Sexual Freedom: Are you ready for the Fifty Shades of Gray Movie?
    Does your media agency have resources for these special interest pieces?  Contact the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom for interviews and information on kink and open relationships. NCSF is the national advocate for consensual adult sexual expression.    Why kink?   There has been a significant interest in BDSM sparked by the wildly successful Fifty Shades of Grey.  Similar topics appeared in recent TV Shows from CSI to House to Desperate Housewives, and even animated shows such as American Dad.      Furthermore many people, married and otherwise, are discovering and practicing non-monogamy. From polyamory to swinging to open relationships, a notable percentage of the public are shifting their relationship parameters in an honest…
  • Media Kit
    NCSF Media Kit The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom provides educational resources on BDSM and non-monogamy. Resources include data from NCSF's Incident Reporting & Response program which directly helps hundreds of people and groups every year who are being discriminated against because of their sexual expression. NCSF also provides original research on kinksters and the issues caused by the stigma we face, as well as statements on consent and best practices in BDSM. We also offer experts who are knowledgeable about alternative sexual practices as well as experience in community organizing. Contact Susan Wright, NCSF This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./NCSFreedomwww.twitter.com/ncsf Susan Wright founded the…
  • 50 Shades of NCSF Palm Cards
    Are You Ready for Fifty Shades? To coincide with the launch of the movie, get your Fifty Shades of Kink palm cards from NCSF to put out at your club or in local sex shops and bookstores so that people who are looking to find out more about kink know where to go. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request your cards. NCSF’s Fifty Shades of Kink resource page is for people who are kinky and/or non-monogamous, whether they’re just starting out or an old hand at this:  ncsfreedom.org/50ShadesofKink          Check out our Media Kit   Dated: 12/12/2014 Updated: 
  • GayLawNet Joins Forces with NCSF
    NCSF’s Kink Aware Professionals joins forces with GayLawNet   NCSF has expanded the reach of its Kink Aware Professionals by collaborating with GayLawNet, which now offers a way for lawyers in their database to self-identify as Kink Aware Professionals:  gaylawnet.com/attorneys/ussolc.html   “Whenever someone can’t find a lawyer in NCSF’s KAP list, I always refer them to GayLawNet,” says Susan Wright, spokesperson for NCSF. “Many of their gay-friendly lawyers are eager to work with kinky people, and the GayLawNet database is huge.”   NCSF recently started an outreach campaign to the lawyers who have listed themselves on GayLawNet to let them…
  • Tides Awards NCSF $1,500 Grant
    NCSF Receives Grant Award NCSF is proud to announce the receipt of a $1,500 grant awarded by Tides Foundation. About Tides #TidesProject “Since 1976, Tides Foundation has worked with over 15,000 individuals and organizations in the mutual endeavor to make the world a better place. These include foundations, donors, corporations, social investors, nonprofit organizations, government institutions, community organizations, activists, social entrepreneurs, and more. We break down the walls between entrepreneurs and their efforts to bring positive change to their communities. We are all about new ideas, innovation, and providing the tools to make these great ideas a reality.” NCSF is…
  • NCSF Mental Health Survey
    NCSF Mental Health Survey Please take the NCSF Mental Health Survey! We would like to know more about your BDSM practices, mental health and relational violence experiences: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FZ2XDMP NCSF is working with researchers at Sam Houston University’s Department of Psychology and Philosophy who will compare our responses to two other sample populations – one college-aged and the other LGBT. NCSF will use these results to help with our advocacy, benefiting both existing and developing programs. Specifically, the study’s results will assist in educating law enforcement, legal and psychological professionals about the practices and mental health of BDSM practitioners. The survey…
  • Military Court Accepts NCSF's Amicus Brief
    Military Court Accepts NCSF’s Amicus Brief in Support of Consensual Nonmonogamy April 24, 2014 – Washington, DC – The Navy and Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has accepted NCSF’s amicus (“friend of the court”) brief advising the court that prosecutors are avoiding the Supreme Court decision, made in Lawrence v. Texas, that moral judgment is not a basis for criminalizing consensual sexual conduct, and that consensual sex should only be criminalized if that conduct is injurious or goes against a valid societal interest. In the appellate case, it was argued that the activities were “public” even though the sexual…
  • Ombudsman Committee Established
    NCSF Appoints Members of the Ombuds Committee   June 3, 2014 - NCSF is proud to announce these appointments to the Ombuds Committee: Desmond Ravenstone, James Huesmann and Bjorn Paulee. The Ombuds Committee handles complaints and concerns regarding the conduct of NCSF officers and staff, and the operations of NCSF institutions. The NCSF Ombuds Committee shall be established as an Advisory Committee, as per NCSF bylaws, to review Coalition administration and activities, assuring ethical and effective fulfillment of NCSF’s mission and goals. Board Member Fil Vocasek is the Board Liaison to the Ombuds Committee.   NCSF thanks the three members…
  • NCSF Files Amicus Brief in Military Court
      NCSF Files Amicus Brief in Support of Consensual Nonmonogamy March 26, 2014 – Washington D.C. – NCSF has filed an amicus brief in a military case involving a marine who engaged in a consensual threesome and because of that was convicted of adultery, attempted consensual sodomy and indecent conduct, a "crime" based solely on undefined sexual conduct inconsistent with "common propriety."   In its brief, NCSF points out that military law is out of sync with U.S. Constitutional law and societal mores, especially when it comes to consensual sexual behaviors. Dick Cunningham, NCSF's Legal Counsel who prepared and filed…