Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law
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Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law

Edited by Chris Ashford and Alexander Maine

This innovative and thought-provoking Research Handbook explores not only current debates in the area of gender, sexuality and the law but also points the way for future socio-legal research and scholarship. It presents wide-ranging insights and debates from across the globe, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia, with contributions from leading scholars and activists alongside exciting emergent voices.
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Chapter 26: Kinky identity and practice in relation to the law

Ummni Khan


This chapter explores the complex status of BDSM in the sociolegal imaginary. Drawing on laws, cases and governmental documents from Canada, the UK and the US, the chapter offers a cross section of examples in different areas of regulation to demonstrate the multiple ways in which kink can get entangled with the law. An analysis of criminal, employment, family, human rights and privacy law demonstrates that judicial decisions and parliamentary documents tend to marginalize, demonize or pathologize kink desires and practitioners. Conversely, the chapter also shows that in a few discrete cases, law has created discursive space for the recuperation of BDSM within the bounds of sexual citizenship. The goal of the chapter is to provide an overview of the multiple ways that kinky people are vulnerable to legal stigma and persecution, and how this interference with their sexual autonomy and recreational liberty is justified, or sometimes challenged.

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