English Sexual politics

ReviseF65 meets SM Germany

Report from Folsom Europe 2004

In 2004 the federal German organisation BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. – started the work to remove the diagnoses of Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism from their national version of ICD, International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organisation, WHO. This is important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using stigmatizing national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that WHO will follow suit.

The ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, had important talks with activists from German SM organisations both during Europride in Cologne in 2002, and held a workshop during the Folsom street weekend in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004. This brings hope to intensify the work towards SM/fetish prejudices in general, and the efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification, in special.

ReviseF65 attended Europride in Cologne 2002. Among other things, we had important talks with german SM-activists, and was interviewed by the magazine of SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V.. This organisation is running 15 BDSM-communities within 11 towns in Germany. The SMart-Info brought a lot of information about the ReviseF65 efforts to delete stigmatising SM and Fetish diagnoses from the ICD classification published by the WHO – World Health Organisation.

Three weeks before the first Folsom Europe street fair in Berlin 2004, the ReviseF65 committee got a very warm invitation from the BVSM e.V. – Bundesvereinigung Sadomasochismus e.V. to meet them at their Folsom Street Fair booth to present and to inform people about our work. This Federal German organisation had been built up in the two years since I last visited Germany.

At a very short notice, together we were able to organise the production of 500 ReviseF65-flyers in both English and German which was distributed by Ole Johnsen and Svein Skeid from the ReviseF65 committee together with Erik Weisdal during the ten hour long Saturday street fair. As if there wouldn´t have been enough work organising the BVSM booth, Raven and Jayneway managed to organise the possibility for Svein to hold a lecture on Sunday, 5th, the day after the Folsom Europe. Within few days they found a space we could use for free and even organised a wonderfull buffet. Nearly 30 SM activists from organisations all over Germany, Austria and Holland visited the lecture and took part in the discussion afterwards. During the talks at the buffet it suddenly came to happen that what was planned as a nice afterhour for the Folsom weekend transformed into a network meeting of SM activists.

Before, during and after our stay in Berlin September 3.-6., 2004, we learned that central SMart-members I talked to in 2002, was founding member of the new federal SM organisation BVSM e.V., and that one of the main goals of BVSM is to work for the deletion of SM and Fetish diagnoses from the national version of the ICD in Germany. Both SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. and BDSM-Berlin e.V. also support the ReviseF65 project.

This is very important because, as with the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality, the more countries that stop using their national SM and Fetish diagnoses, the bigger is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. This far, the diagnoses of Sadomasochism and Transvestism is completely out of use in Denmark since 1995. In the U.S., Sadomasochism, Fetishism and Transvestic Fetishism is considered to be a healthy form of sexual expression as long as it does not impair the daily functioning of the subject.

The Gay Movement more than 30 years ago considered it of fundamental importance to first delete the diagnosis of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), before any further major human rights improvement was possible. If a group is considered mentally ill, very few people will listen to your arguments aiming at reducing prejudice in society.

The ReviseF65 movement apply the same judgement today. We consider unprofessional and stigmatising SM and Fetish-diagnoses as possibly one of the biggest obstacles to the acceptance of our human rights. Abolishing them is a very important step in the effort to reduce prejudices towards the SM-Leather-Fetish-population.

The pansexual ReviseF65 committee, located in Norway, sets focus on the lack of scientific basis for today’s diagnoses and tries to stimulate the building-up of an international activist and professional network to delete these diagnoses.

One thing I am sure of. The BDSM community is able to reach our goal ourselves. We are not dependent of the Gay movement. But we can learn from their experiences as I referred to in my lecture during the Folsom weekend. Don’t expect anybody to fight for your freedom from discrimination, if you don’t do it yourself.

Like the earlier diagnosis of Homosexuality that is no longer applied by the WHO, the SM and Fetish diagnoses are rarely used in clinical practice as a means to assist people. On the contrary the stigma attached to the diagnoses justifies various forms of harassment and discrimination of this sexual minority by the society. The ReviseF65 group can document that people are losing their jobs, the custody of their children etc., because of their SM-love, lifestyle and self-expression. Much of the discrimination is directly or indirectly a result of the diagnoses.

The ReviseF65 representatives look upon the Folsom Street Fair in general, and the Sunday ReviseF65 lecture in special as a big success. We have got feedback from our German friends that this visit and our contact can lead to closer cooperation and stronger efforts to delete the sm/fetish diagnoses.

All european Leather-SM-Fetish communities were invited to participate. One of the goals with The Folsom Europe Street Fair (like the mother arrangements in the US and Canada) was to strengthen the bonds within the Leather-SM-Fetish community, to raise money to several social projects like hiv and aids, and to reduce SM-Fetish pre-judgements by stepping in to the open public. The arrangement was supported by the City of Berlin, the Berlin Police, the Industrial Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Berlin and the Berlin Tourism Office.

What impressed us Norwegians most, besides all the people at the lecture, the wonderful weather, the very well organised street fair and all the proud and friendly leather/SM people of all colors, interests and sexual orientations, was among other things, the booths with leather- and rubber-men fighting hiv and aids, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Police Officers Berlin-Brandenburg e.V., the police Berlin with it’s contact persons for homosexual lifestyles, and not least all the SM activists at the booths of BVSM e.V., BDSM-Berlin e.V. and SMart-Rhein-Ruhr e.V. .

Svein Skeid

Leader of the ReviseF65 commitee