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Pay v UK, the Probation Service and consensual BDSM sexual citizenship

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2012
Issue number5-6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)739-757
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish


Against a negative background, recent scholarship indicates a socio-cultural and medical reconceptualisation of consensual BDSM.
At a point where consensual BDSM appears to be on the cusp of a new understanding and the question of full inclusion in the polity arises, any new legal frustration of its expression may have profound impacts, particularly in terms of citizenship claims.
Focusing on the European Court of Human Rights decision in Pay v UK (2009) concerning the dismissal of a self-identified BDSM Probation officer, this article considers the case's significance for the development of consensual BDSM as a rights-bearing identity before the law and in relation to questions of sexual citizenship.
Noting how the Court relies on negative and distorted stereotypes of consensual BDSM, this article further observes how the expulsion of the consensual BDSM identity from the Probation service is rendered necessary to maintain the sexually normative coherence of the polity and, in the context of the Pay case, the civil institutions that regulate it.