English Seksualpolitikk

Denmark withdraws SM from Diagnosis-list

Denmark has as the first European country taken the political decision to remove SM as a diagnosis.

In 1995, as the first EU country, Denmark withdrew sadomasochism completely as a diagnosis by a political decision in the Government. The decision is founded on research showing SM or sadomasochism to be no disease. The Dual-role transvestism diagnosis were repealed in Denmark August 19, 1994.

– Not a disease

In a letter to Anders Sørensen, chairman of the SM association Det Sorte Selskab (The Black Society), the former Health Minister Yvonne Herløv Andersen (picture) wrote that she finds it deplorable that sadomasochism is included in the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.

“I think there is good reason to abandon the international disease classification on this point,” wrote Andersen, who was the Danish Health Minister from 1994 to 1996, and Social Minister before that. The Minister agreed that sexual preferences are an entirely private matter. “The acceptance of people with a different sexuality has increased, and in this area Denmark is a pioneer country”, she concluded in her letter.

The Black Society’s chairman Anders Sørensen received the decision with enthusiasm. “Many sadomasochists all over the world wish that this attitude were current in their own country, including neighbours like Sweden, Norway and England, which in other matters are regarded as enlightened and civilised states with a human attitude in the administration of justice”, the SM chairman declaired to the Danish newspaper “Politiken” (The Politics 1995, April 1, p. A7).

In the picture on the right, you can see a facsimile of the letter from Sundhedsstyrelsen (the Danish Board of Health), where the decision to stop using the diagnose F65.5 Sadomasochism, is announced. Click the picture for a larger version of the letter, which naturally is written in Danish. (English translation below).

Violence and SM in the same diagnosis

In today’s ICD classification there is no difference at all between voluntary and consensual SM sex on one side, and violence, harassment and spouse abuse on the other.

The above-quoted documents how Denmark in 1995 withdrew SM as a diagnose, for the precise reason that research shows that SM’ers are no more unsound than other people.

On the web site;
Park Elliot Dietz – one of the worlds leading authorities on the relationship between aggression and sex – documents the basic differences between violent sadism and SM sadism.

On the same web site, the Kinsey Institute’s research report from 1990 is referred to. This report shows that 5-10 percent of the population exercise some form of SM or sadomasochism.

National rejection of diagnoses

Also in Norway and other countries we have seen, in relation to homosexuality, that single countries may reject individual diagnoses in ICD, which is controlled by the World Health Organization, WHO. The more countries that succeed in rejecting the disease classification F65 on fetishism and sadomasochism, the greater the possibility that WHO will withdraw it.

Kink Aware Professionals

Changes in the diagnosis classification ICD are now taking place almost continuously. History shows that the DSM list of the American Psychiatric Association, APA, very often affects the international ICD.

You can find a list over “Kink aware professionals” on

This list, originating in the USA, now includes the whole world, also Europe. A few European resources have already started to emerge. See also: Kink aware professionals Berlin

Kink aware professionals Canada

The letter from Sundhedsstyrelsen (the National Board of Health)

From the Board of Health

To: head physicians at psychiatric wards
The Psychiatric Central Register
The hospitals’ centres of information technology
County data
Ministry of Health

April 24, 1995 6702-15 1994
Local no. 6201


From the Health Minister the Board of Health has received a request that the disease classification’s code for sadomasochism be no longer used in the indexing of diseases.

Consequently we request that the use of the code

DF65.5 Sadomasochism

be blocked for use with effect from May 1, 1995.

Best regards

head physician G. Shiøler (sign.)

Board of Health, Amaliegade 13, Po. box. 2020, DK-1012 Copenhagen K. Telephone 33 91 16 01.