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

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date09/2012
JournalSexualities
Journal number5-6
Volume15
Number of pages19
Pages739-757
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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.