English Seksualpolitikk Sexual politics

Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population (Revise F65, 2004; NCSF, 1999)

(Some more discrimination cases are included under “Discrimination and stigmatization” on the full index page: Site map!)
Discrimination and violence towards the SM/fetish population (Revise F65, 2004; NCSF, 1999)


A lot indicates that the instances of violence, harassment and discrimination in connection with work, home and custody of children that we are aware of are just the tip of the iceberg. As the situation stands today, it is often spokespeople for SM interest organisations etc. that by the power of their visibility experience discrimination. The pathologising and diagnosis of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are often the direct or indirect cause of these attacks.

As a person interested in SM/fetish, you risk losing your job, custody of your children, problems with neighbours, your innermost circle of friends and your closest family members. This then means that we might not have so many sources of support left in our lives. Many people therefore choose to keep their orientation hidden because of the fear of what could happen if they disclosed this.

As a consequence, many individuals do not report being attacked because of the fear of being further harassed by the police. Even if 36 percent of respondents in the American study described below experience violence and harassment, 96 percent of these didn’t report this. As a taboo minority, SM ers and fetishists also experience a significant degree of suppression and invisibility in society, including in the press. When we are referred to, this is usually in connection with “scandals” where the people in question’s sexual orientation is used as a piquant detail to spice up the story for readers.

Violence and harassment

A study (n=1017) undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF), shows that belonging to the SM community and SM sexual orientation generally speaking means that an individual exposes themselves for being socially stigmatised.

Thirty-six percent of subjects had been subjected to violence or harassment because of their SM/fetish orientation. This included verbal insults (reported by 87%), physical violence (25%), stalking (19%), damage to property (19%), blackmail (17%), sexual harassment (13%), rape (10%) and other types or violence or harassment (7%).

The swedish police department Säpo point our that lesbians and gay men are the group that is exposed to most violence and persecution in Sweden. The worst attacks have happened at events with a theme of SM and fetish. [Norwegian text only]

In Norway, the newspaper Klassekampen (27th July 1990) and the monthly publication Blikk have documented how in 1992 a van with nazi symbols drove round the centre of Oslo threatened and shot at gay leather/SM men.

Nazi attack against RFSL
Nazist violence and murder of homosexuals is a large problem in Sweden. Leather- and SM- gay men are hardest hit.
Source: Qmagazine October 13, 1998 [Swedish text only]

Neo-nazis screamed, “bögjävlar” (“fucking buggers”) and made Nazi salutes to SM/fetish gay men. Nazi vandalism to the offices of the gay organisation RFSL has set off a debate about the risk level, with RFSL demanding that homosexuals should be covered by the law on hate crimes towards minority populations.
Source: Qmagazine October 19, 1997. [Swedish text only]


Thirty percent of individuals in NCSF’s study had experienced discrimination because of their SM orientation, preference or method of expression. Forty percent had experienced harassment, 25% loss of job or contract, 17% loss of promotion, loss of custody of children 3%, denial of membership to an organisation 11%, unauthorised arrest 5%, or other forms of discrimination.

Discrimination by official bodies

Lack of legal security for SM-ers
Denmark: Attacker escapes prosecution. By Ole Martin Larsen. Police in Copenhagen have refused to prosecute a man for rape because the victim is a masochist. The woman herself raised the alarm to police from the man’s home. She was found there by a police patrol, dissolved in tears, chained with both foot- and handcuffs and with blood streaming from cuts in her thighs. Despite this, the police consider that there is not sufficient evidence to convict the man.
“Even if I am a masochist, no still means no, and that should be respected. And I said this clearly, amongst other ways by calling the police. What is my legal security worth if this cannot lead to a conviction”, said the woman, a female doctor, to Berlingske Tidende. She has appealed to the public prosecutor about the police’s decision. According to the sadomasochist’s organization SMil, the case is unique, and raises a fundamental question of whether a no from a masochist has the same value as a no from others. Because of this, SMil considers the matter to be concerned with the legal security o f sexual minorities.

Source: Berlingske Tidende/Arbeiderbladet 22th October 1994.

Murderer goes free because victim was a sadomasochist
In August 1993, an American court of appeal let a brutal murderer free because the victim had written a sadomasochistic fantasy in their diary. In this way, people’s right to consent is placed outside the law because of their sexual orientation, even to the extent that their death has been involved.
Leitner v. State (1983) 631 So. 2d 278-9.

The “sadomasochist” is often seen as having given up h/er rights to protection from violence or abuse. It is clear that homosexual men as prosecution witnesses face similar difficulties in credibility as heterosexual women. In August of 1993, an appellate court released a man convicted of murder because the murder victim had written a long sadomasochistic sexual fantasy in his journal and the trial court had refused this journal entry as evidence at trial. The fantasy is reproduced for the delight of the court in its entirety in the published case. The unspoken implication here is that a man who fantasizes about homosexual sadomasochism has somehow consented to a brutal murder: “The journal excerpt was essential to the appellant’s defense. It suggested Craven may have desired to be involved, and may have been involved in voluntary sadomasochist sex when he was killed. If he suffered from these desires, then he might have sought out an amenable partner”[20] who eventually killed him. (That wasn’t very “amenable” of the partner if you ask me). Again, the law has constituted the sadomasochist as an always-already willing victim, even to the point of death.[21] This opinion also highlights the idea of “voluntary sadomasochistic sex” as a “desire” that one “suffers from,” a common thread in much of this discourse. The official status of “perverse” desire is thus situated as a medical and psychiatric condition that places those “afflicted” beyond the protection of the law and unworthy of inclusion in “civilized” society.

English rapist freed because of victim’s SM orientation
In a rape case heard at Leicester Crown Court in England on 29th November 1994, the defendant was freed even though rapist Ben Emerson had admitted the attack. The discovery of SM toys in the woman’s flat, together with her sexual leaning, led to the rapist being freed. Do we see any similarities here to the general debate concerning rape about “loose” and scantily clad women who are not taken seriously when they say “no”. It is actually the woman’s sexual leaning that stands in the dock, not the perpetrator’s acknowledge attack.
Source: Press Association Newsfile 30th November 1994; “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case”.

1994: The “crime” of being a pervert: Despite of a self identified rapists confession, on 29 November 1994, a man was found “not guilty” of rape at Leicester Crown Court, because SM-toys was found in the female victim’s apartment. “There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable”, writes Ben Attias at the California State University of Northridge, USA. “A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always already willing.” [Ben Attias] [“Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile, 30 November 1994].

Rape Defendant Ben Emerson

Despite this frank confession, Ben Emerson was awarded a verdict of “not guilty” of rape on 29 November 1994, after a two-minute jury deliberation at Leicester Crown Court. The judge commented to the jury, “I wholeheartedly agree with your verdict.” The judge had actually recommended to the jury that it render a quick decision before even hearing the defense’s case: “At the end of the prosecution case the judge summarized the alleged victim’s evidence and reminded the jury how she and Emerson had oral sex without her objecting at her home….the judge told the jury: ‘When he went to get some baby oil to massage her body, what is this young man to think when he finds in the drawer artificial penises, magazines designed to excite sexually? He finds a riding crop near her bed and chains on the bed,” (ibid). After the trial, a friend of Emerson stated, “Justice was served in the end.”

“Justice,” in this case, meant the release of a self-identified rapist because the “alleged” victim had committed the prior crime of being a pervert. There can be no doubt from the evidence that what was really on trial during this event was the prosecution witness’s sexuality — the mere existence of an interest in kinky sex made her charge of rape untenable. A woman’s privilege to say “no” to sex is here circumscribed by the discursive apparatus invoked by her sexuality — a woman with an interest in sadomasochism, rubber skirts, and body-piercing, judge and jury seem to have reasoned, cannot be raped. Her sexuality implicitly predisposes her to consent to sex — she is inscribed as always-already willing. Ben Emerson, quoted in “Student Cleared in Body-Piercing Rape Case,” Press Association Newsfile (30 November 1994).

USA: Released after multiple rapes
Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips were found not guilty by Ohio’s court of appeal of having carried out rape and mistreatment throughout the night of 14th July 1977. The victim Jane Lucas had been careless enough to write a birthday card to Kekich from which her masochistic interest was clear. By the force of her sexual leaning she was seen as “always willing” and prepared for sex and in practice declared to without the legal capacity to oppose the attack.
Source: [17] State v. Battista, Case Nos. CA 4815 & CA 4816, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth Appellate District, Stark County, Ohio, Slip Opinion 8th November 1978.

On 8 November 1978, an Ohio appellate court handed down a similar verdict to two men accused of rape, felonious assault, and felonious sexual penetration. The court included a detailed description of the events of 14 July 1977 in the court transcript, providing an account of victim Jane Lucas’ testimony “[a]t the risk of memorializing the conduct of the Defendants for the future delight of the sexually perverse.”[17] This invocation of a notion of potential prurient interest in the testimony of the victim is characteristic of the Court’s treatment of the issues involved — outright violence is sexualized and treated as potentially “nonserious” in the serious context of the courtroom.[18]

According to Lucas’ testimony, she drove to Donald Kekich’s apartment with the intention of having sex with him. When they got there, Kekich told her to undress and asked if she needed to use the bathroom. In the bathroom, she was grabbed by a naked man (Howard Phillips, another of the defendants), raped, and severely beaten. Kekich and Phillips continued to rape and beat her for hours, later taking her to the apartment of other friends who joined in her torture, which lasted all night and included being threatened with a shotgun, which was then shoved inside of her while pictures were taken.

The defendants were convicted of “felonious sexual penetration,” but were acquitted of rape and assault on the basis of the discursive apparatus mobilized by the following testimony: “She asked for everything. She asked to blow you, she asked to go to bed with you. I mean, every sex act that happened was through her. I mean came out of her mouth and with each and every guy,” (Bruce Battista). The appellate court vacated convictions on rape and assault charges based on testimony from a friend of Lucas’ that she had overheard Lucas express masochistic fantasies, and the following birthday card sent by Lucas to Kekich, with whom she had a sexual relationship prior to the assault:

“I think you’re a brute, an animal and a Sex Fiend! — And I want you to know I appreciate it! Happy Birthday! To a man who won’t stand anything he doesn’t like, do without anything he desires, or even be polite to people unless they please him. As mean as you are – you will live a century & then some – Happy Birthday, Turkey!

…Love, Janie Lucas”

According to the appellate court, “It is evident in the instant case that Jane Lucas who accompanied Donald Kekich, Bruce Battista, Harold Phillips and Daniel Phillips initially by invitation got much more than she bargained for. However, it is equally obvious from evidence of record and especially from the birthday card admitted as Defendants’ exhibit, supra, that had acts which followed been limited to sexual conduct it would not have been necessary to compel Jane Lucas to submit by force or threat of force and that no charges would have been filed with nothing further being heard of such occurrences.”

Here the mere suggestion that Ms. Lucas might have consented without force to a sado-masochistic sexual relationship is taken as a priori evidence that she cannot legally be raped. Again, her sexuality inscribes her as always-already willing. The appellate court’s conviction of the defendants on charges of “felonious sexual penetration” further indicates that what went wrong on July, 14, 1977, was not so much the violence and terror to which Ms. Lucas was subjected, but rather the introduction of a foreign object into one of her orifices — the defendants, in other words, were convicted of violating a dildo law. (The relevant portion of the law states as follows: “No person without privilege to do so [it is unclear who has this privilege] shall insert any instrument, apparatus, or object into the vaginal or anal cavity of another, not the spouse of the offender, when any of the following apply: (1) The offender purposely compels the other person to submit by force or threat of force…”)


The Spanner case
A hundred years after the case against Oscar Wilde, England has been the only land in Europe to criminalise safe, sane and consenting SM-sex between equal gay partners. Heterosexual sadomasochists have been found not guilty for similar activities. In the European Commission of Human Rights, seven lands voted to free the Spanner gay men, while 11 wanted to convict them. Subsequently the court unanimously followed the majority vote in 1997. The tragedy here is that the Nordic lands would have counted in the balance of votes. If they had supported the Spanner gay men, then the opposite outcome would have been achieved. The Norwegian representative didn’t even turn up to vote. In the English highest court of appeal (1993), the Spanner men were sentenced by three votes to one. The convicted men have received moral and economic support from a collective Norwegian and international gay movement and a range of Norwegian political organisations with many hundreds of thousands of members from both the political left and right. This was a broad mobilisation of people for important principles such as freedom from harassment and not being allowed to work in the public sector, the right to free expression and adult individuals’ right to take their own decisions regarding their bodies and sexuality.

An official appointed British Law Commission in 1995 came to the conclusion that SM or sadomasochism, short of causing serious or permanently disabling injury, should be no crime between consenting adults. – Under the Law Commission’s new proposals, the Spanner men would never have been prosecuted, according to the director of the civil rights group Liberty, John Wadham (Pink Paper December 22, 1995).

Discrimination on the internet

AOL discriminates against gay SM people
Gay rights organisations threatened to boycott internet service provider AOL because America OnLine discriminated against SMers, whilst racists’ and homophobes’ expressions are tolerated. On Monday, demonstrated outside the town hall in San Francisco because AOL had removed the user profile of a SM gay man which included the words “submissive” and “bottom”. Activists warned that this would be just the first in a series of protests if AOL didn’t stop the censorship or throw out the homophobes.
Source: Wired News 25.10.1999.,1367,32106,00.html

SM-censorship on Geocities
The Swedish website Robin1 for lesbians and gay men was censored by Geocities after Robin1 posted up theme pages on fetishism. There was no pornography on the pages. Here, you can read Robins story about the censorship and about his own coming out process as a leatherman. Skeive nyheter December 1997.[Sorry, only in Swedish]

Scandalisation in the press

“Sado-murder” and “sado-rape” are usual headlines when the tabloid press want to bring out the spicy details that are supposed to send a shiver down reader’s spines and sell more papers. Despite modern research having shown that SMers are no more likely to commit crimes, the person’s “sadomasochistic” learning is used as an obvious explanation for why the attack took place. The media do the same as they used to with homosexuals in terms of how they build up stereotypes. It is exactly this kind of media blunder that was in our time the reason that in 1981 an anti-discrimination law was passed in Norway relating to gay men and lesbians (Else Bugge Fougner and Berthold Grünfeld in Norway’s Offentlige Utredninger (NOU) om strafferettslig vern for homofile, 1979).

One of many possible examples, the case described here is the witch hunt against the SM-er and weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge.

Witch hunt against human rights activist
The American weapons inspector Harvey McGeorge (53) was scandalised and ridiculed in the press throughout the world because he had worked to inform people about safe, sane and consenting SM sex. The weapons inspector’s Swedish boss, Hans Blix, stated however that McGeorge’s private life was not relevant to his position as a weapons inspector. Source: Smia-info 30th November 2002. [mostly Norwegian. One English link]

Loss of job

There are many examples where fetishists and SM-ers lose their jobs because of their SM interest and orientation. Others are threatened with dismissal if they continue to inform people publicly about the group’s human rights.

A survey among readers of “The Leather Journal” in 2001 could indicate that one in four fetishists experiences discrimination at work.

A study undertaken by the SM rights organisation The National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, NCSF, shows that one in 13 SM-ers had lost their job because of their orientation.

Threatened with dismissal
”Lasse”. In 1996, Oslo local authority threatened to dismiss a 22 year-old Norwegian bisexual male musician from his job in a free theatre group for children if he did not stop giving out information about fetishism in the media. The man was at this point a committee member in the Norwegian fetish organization Colorful People and had taken part in a debate on fetishism on ZTV. The man chose to sacrifice his freedom of expression in order to keep his job.
Source: Personal documentation.

Dismissal of temporary worker
”Kjersti”. In December 2000, a 26 year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman lost her temporary job as a salesperson in an insurance company in Eastern Norway because of her openness about her SM-orientation. This occurred despite the fact that she had completed internal training with the best results of the entire new intake of temporary staff. At a teambuilding seminar, participants were invited to tell their colleagues something about themselves that the others didn’t know about. The woman wondered whether to tell them about her interest in SM, but felt that this would not be quite right and therefore chose to contribute something else. Later the same evening, after dinner had been eaten and the atmosphere was more relaxed, she opened up to two or three of her colleagues and told them a bit about her interest in SM. This was met with good humour and taken as something “cool” by the colleagues, and in the first couple of weeks back at the office, this was joked about with “kinky” jokes in breaks, especially between the woman and these colleagues. The team leader heard the jokes, but did not share in the humour. Two weeks later, the woman was dismissed. The boss blamed this on the firm’s financial situation and said that he had taken on too many new employee s. However, the consultant in the deputy agency that had sent her to the firm in the first place afterwards gave her a friendly hint not to be so open about private matters in her next job. Two months later, the insurance company advertised again for new temporary staff for its sales team – temporary work with the possibility of permanent employment. The woman chose not to fight for her job, in the belief that she was only a temporary worker and therefore did not have the same rights as a permanent employee. Additionally, she would have been labeled as a troublemaker and would perhaps have missed out on the possibility of getting work through the temping agency in the future.
Source: Personal documentation

Dismissal of teacher at primary school
“Eros”. Norway, place unknown, 2003. A person of unknown sex, aged between 20 and 40 years. The person worked as a teacher in a primary school and is active in the Norwegian SM scene. In the course of the first few months in 2003, members of the local community around the school worked became aware of the person in question’s SM preferences. The person in question had not “come out” by themselves; this knowledge being made public was due to gossip behind their back. The gossip reached the school’s administration and the person received a sharp reaction from the school’s leadership: they were dismissed from their position at the school. It is hopeless to take up the fight again a dismissal like this. Such dismissals are clearly against the law, but should a person win a case against their employer, it would be just about impossible for the person to return to their workplace. The possibilities are all too great that the remaining employees would be in possession of misinformation and prejudices which would mean that they would not look upon that person as unsuitable to work with children, and as a result would “freeze” them out within the workplace.

Lost children because of SM diagnosis
“Hilde”. In 1997, a 42–year-old Norwegian woman in Eastern Norway let herself be pressured by her own lawyer to give up her custody of her two daughters after her divorce. The lawyer considered that the woman had a poor legal case because SM is defined as a psychiatric illness in Norway. This happened after her ex-husband got hold of the woman’s holiday photographs which showed her interest in SM – sado-masochism. He passed the photographs on to his lawyer. The children were also informed about the woman’s orientation. Today, the woman lives almost 40 Norwegian miles (400 kilometres/248 English miles) away from her children, but has partially regained contact with them after many years without contact.
Source: SMil-bladet, no. 2, 2002.

Children lost their father for 10 years
“Severin”. In 1983, a 39-year-old Norwegian man, who had been open with his wife of 12 years about his homosexual SM-orientation, lost shared custody rights of his three children (6, 10 and 12 years) because of his fetish- and SM-orientation. The smallest details of the man’s private sexual life was described by his ex-wife and her new husband in the court case (with jury). After this, he did not see his children for 10 years, until them became old enough to themselves make contact with him. Today, the man has a good relationship to them. An important element of the case is that the man was granted visitation rights to the children, something that was sabotaged by his ex-wife throughout the years of separation from his children.
Source: Personal documentation.

SM-preference does not affect caring ability
“Janne”. A 28-year-old Norwegian heterosexual woman had her parental rights to her two small boys under the age of six withdrawn in 2000 after she had asked the Child Protection department for help after the break-up of her partnership with the children’s father. Her ex-partner later became aware of her new interest in SM via an unknown source and informed the Child Protection department of this. SM-orientation was taken as a sign of illness and that the woman was not fit to be a parent. She was also reported for inadequate parenting of her children. The ”judgment” on the loss of parental rights including the woman’s SM-orientation, was announced by the Child Protection department in the presence of the children. After this, the woman was only allowed to have the children for between one and a half to two hours, one or two times a month, under supervision. She was not allowed to see the children in her own home. It became clear in the time following the judgment that the children had not received inadequate parenting from the woman, but instead one or both were born with a mild learning difficulty, which made him/them somewhat more demanding than unaffected children. The woman has employed a lawyer who is pursuing the case. The woman also wishes that something good should come out of the whole affair; namely that experts used in comparative cases in the future should intuitively know that the sexual preferences of adults – what one enjoys together with one’s partner – has nothing to do with a person’s qualities as a parent.
Source: Personal documentation.

Trashing: SM women harassed by other women

As with other types of attack, it looks as if women are especially vulnerable. According to the Jad Keres report from 1994, 56% of lesbian or bisexual women have experienced discrimination and violence from other women in the lesbian scene because of their interest in SM

One quarter of the sm women surveyed were physically assaulted by members of the lesbian community.

Discrimination within the lesbian community affects 30% of the women surveyed because of their sm orientation, including being ejected or refused admittance from a public accommodation, denied housing, and/or refused membership in a social, recreational, political, educational or spiritual lesbian group.

The lesbian author Pat Califia (Patrick Califa-Rice) in an interview with the Swedish paper Homoplaneten describes the harassment “trashing” of American SM activists:

“SM lesbians are beaten up and closed out from women’s social meeting places. Our literature is burned, they call our employers and say that we are perverts so that we lose our jobs”.
Source: “Samtaler med Pat Califia” [Talks with Pat Califia]. RFSL 12.10.1998.

Things show that trashing where the most radical feminists harass women also happens in Norway. SM lesbians here too are denied entry to women’s social meeting places.

“Banners that express support of SM go against the basis guidelines for
having banners and the “8th of March”- days intentions and are therefore unacceptable in the parade.
Decision of the 8th of March committee in Oslo on 20th February 1997.
Source: Letter and telephone call from 8. mars-komiteen 1997.

A 32-year old lesbian woman was in 1997 outed and publicly exhibited as an SM‘er at her place of work by a Norwegian extreme radical feminist. The 32-year-old had taken part in a newspaper debate on SM and arranged a meeting on this theme. The feminist participated in a educational gathering at the woman’s workplace. The 32-year-old was not at the gathering, but figured as a therapist on a video used in the session. The feminist recognised the lesbian women on the video and said in front of the victim’s colleagues, head of department and representatives from other institutions “It is shocking that this woman works as a therapist when she is an SM-er”.
When the lesbian woman came back to work after the weekend, shocked colleagues told her what had been said. The victim felt that she had to turn up at a meeting of all the employees and prepared herself for the fact that she might no longer be able to work there. After this, the situation calmed down and the woman no longer works there.
Source: personal documentation

It can seem as if certain feminists systematically teach women to fear SM women and SM lesbians. The same 32-year-old mentioned above also experienced in 1995 that a colleague at an institute for outreach work with young people refused to work with the SM woman “because she couldn’t feel safe with the woman’s attitude towards violence”. The woman was called in by her boss in connection with the matter, but he didn’t have any problems with the SM lesbian’s sexual orientation. Neither did the third person in the team, a muslim American, have problems with this. The woman was at that time the leader of an SM rights organisation.
Source: personal documentation.

English Seksualpolitikk Sexual politics

Mandate, background and some of the Revise F65 efforts since 1994

Revise F65:
Professional and health political work 1994-2009

NB: LLH in 2016 changed its name to FRI – The Norwegian Organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity.


The award-winning work to remove SM and fetish diagnoses is groundbreaking because health care professionals and human rights activists cooperate across sexual orientation and across borders to lay a foundation and set the premises for a pioneering human rights reform.

By Svein Skeid

The ReviseF65 committee is a subsidiary of LLH, the Norwegian LGBT Association, with a political mandate from all the biennial LLH National Conventions since 1996. ReviseF65 also has a mandate from the international lesbian and gay movement (ILGA 1999), The European leather club confederation (ECMC 2000) and the federal German SM organization (BVSM e.V. 2004). 

The LLH mandate

The purpose of Revise F65 is to remove Fetishism, Transvestism and Sadomasochism as psychiatric diagnoses from the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and translated into national versions world wide (mandate from the 1996 biennial national convention of LLH).

The mandate was based on a national survey conducted among the nearly two thousand lesbian and gay members of LLH, “rejecting discrimination of leather, SM and transgender people, and judging this diversity as a valuable resource” (according to the 1998 LLH convention).

According to the 2000 LLH convention (picture), Revise F65 “shall establish a professional basis for the work and lobbying official authorities to remove the diagnoses.”

At the 2004 LLH convention, the Revise F65 mandate was explicitly expressed in the organization’s political platform. This is especially important and a big victory because the Norwegian gay and lesbian movement often ”forget” to include their SM/fetish minority in their budgets, working plans and the previous political platform from 1996.

Professional and human rights work

Even though the main purpose is to abolish SM and fetish diagnoses, Revise F65 is also involved in general work against discrimination and harassment of fetishists and sadomasochists. Some of this work is mentioned here.

In addition to national work, Revise F65 also have an international mandate to motivate other countries to remove their national versions of the SM/fetish ICD diagnoses. The more countries that remove their diagnoses, the greater is the possibility that the World Health Organization will follow suit. This is what happened in many countries in the years before the World Health Organization removed homosexuality as a diagnosis from the ICD classification in 1990.

Inbetween formal committee meetings there has been national and international network building, lectures, workshops, participation at congresses, seminars and festivals. We have been giving interviews, publishing articles, film production, book contribution, periodicals, and lobbying of official health politicans and mental health professionals.

The ReviseF65 project concerns both gays, straights and transgender people. Therefore the ReviseF65 committee consists of leather/SM/fetish men and women representing organizations of leather and SM gays, – lesbians, bi- and heterosexuals, as well as professionals in sexology, psychology and psychiatry. Several dozen people have been involved during the years to a greater or lesser degree on a national basis. Even more people on an international level.

The name “F65” is a chapter in the International Classification of Diseases describing the so called “paraphilias”, earlier called “perversions”. It also contains other paraphilias. Obviously, we primarily want to delete the SM and Fetish diagnoses concerning consenting adults.


Today we know that SM and fetish people played an important role in the modern gay rights movement from the very beginning in Norway and world wide. We were central in establishing the gay and lesbian organization in Norway in the 1950’s. Many leading persons in the gay movement have later been into fetish and SM, and still are. ”Without a face”, we are working for the welfare of gay and lesbians in general. Nevertheless, as a minority within a minority, gay and lesbian leather people experience discrimination within the homosexual movement.

When Norway’s first fetish and SM club, Scandinavian Leather Men (SLM), was founded in 1976, the gay leather members were regarded as violent and reactionary nazis. When the pansexual SM-organization SMil was established in 1988, leading Norwegian psychiatrists called it’s members ”violent” and ”disturbed persons” not being able to feel empathy.

The impetus behind the F65 repeal movement was the flourishing of SM pride, with fetish men and women parading through the streets during Gay Pride week. Leather people were tired of being object of derision in the tabloids.

The group Lesbians in Leather founded in 1993, was a precursor of Smia, founded in 1995, a human-rights group for lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people.  All these groups, namely Lesbians in Leather, Smia and ReviseF65 are subsidiaries of LLH, and were founded by Svein Skeid.

From 1993 to 1997 Smia campaigned and set about fund-raising (£ 2000) in favour of the defendants in the British Spanner Case, which started in Manchester 1987. We gained support of several dozen Norwegian political organizations, including women‘s rights groups and trade unions, not to mention the unanimous backing of the Lesbian and Gay movement.

In 1997, the Revise F65 committee was formally established by Smia, individual transgender people, and mental health professionals. SLM and SMil joined the committee in 1998, thus the coalition continued to grow.

Long term project

Since 1996, the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Social Welfare (since 2002), andthe Norwegian Directorate of Health (since 2008), has supported Smia’s work financially to strengthen the self-esteem and identity of gay leather men as part of strategies to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Stigmatizing fetish and SM practices, in our opinion, amounts to an insult against healthy leather-people and, therefore, runs counter to effective public health and safer sex education efforts. It seemed like a paradox that the same official health authorities who grant money to LLH, SLM and Smia, who encourage a positive identity for fetishists and sadomasochists for the HIV prevention and other issues, also represent the agencies that employ the discriminatory and stigmatizing diagnoses of these practices.

The American Psychiatric Association, APA, considerably revised their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) spring 1994. Fall 1994 and May 1995 Dual-role transvestism and the SM diagnoses were repealed in Denmark. Both decisions were founded on research showing that SM is no disease.

Inspired by these incidents, the Norwegian gay and lesbian organization in September 1994 and June 1996 asked the Norwegian Health Authorities for help to bring about the same changes in Norway. The answer from the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision was totally negative.

We then realized that our initiative would be a long term project.



March 8, 1996. Smia was thrown out of the International Women’s Day parade in Oslo because of our slogan “SM is interplay, not violence”. The mistaken blending of SM and violence were introduced by the Austro-German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing and is still kept alive by the ICD chapter F65.5 Sadomasochism.
Decision by the March 8 committee in Oslo Februar 20, 1997 (letter and telephone from Turid Kjernsli in the March 8 committee) (The newspaper Klassekampen March 8, 1996).

July 1998. The online newspaper wrote about SM/fetish diagnoses and BDSM human rights in the years before was established.

November 1998. SM – A sexy diagnosis. “Removal of SM and fetish diagnoses is one of the most important tasks of the human rights group Smia.” Smia is the prime mover behind the Revise F65 group. Report in the monthly gay and lesbian magazine Blikk.

Participants in the ReviseF65 group in 1996 promoted the democratic revision of the rules and policy of the gay leather umbrella organization “European Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs”, ECMC, so as to address issues of sexual politics. In 2000 the more than 50 ECMC member clubs, following a proposal by SLM-Oslo, decided to support the Revise F65 effort.
The gay and lesbian magazine Blikk Desember 1998. “Fri tanke”, the magazine of The Norwegian Humanist Association December 10, 1998.

January 1999 professional leader [fagsjef] Ellen Hagemo in the Norwegian Board of Health Supervision wrongly contended that “we cannot just change the national version of the ICD diagnoses”. (According to report from Revise F65 meeting January 20, 1999.)

The umbrella organization for European gay and lesbian rights, European ILGA, issued a statement at it’s 1999 conference in Pisa, Italy, supporting the efforts to remove the diagnoses from the ICD. The Revise F65 member Ole Johnsen also gave a workshop.

February 19, 2000. Svein Skeid (picture) was awarded honorary member of the SLM leather organization for his work over twenty years for BDSM human rights and the BDSM community, including the work to remove fetish and SM diagnoses.

The LLH Convention in 2000 once again approved the ReviseF65 project, which “shall continue until the goal is attained”.

November 18, 2001. Svein Skeid held a presentation about SM human rights, including the Revise F65 efforts, at the University of Agder, Norway.

The Revise F65 web site, established in 2002 in Norwegian, English, German and Portuguese, along with the corresponding mailing list, has facilitated national and international networks. In 2002 the ReviseF65 group had mail correspondence and personal contact with activists and professionals or held lectures in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, Canada, Hong Kong, Brazil and USA. Updated 2012: Iceland, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Chile, Taiwan, Cuba, Australia, Italy, France, Scotland, Czech Republic and Poland.

“There is something very exciting about connecting up with others who work towards the same goals across the world. Thank you for making this possible.”
Peggy J. Kleinplatz, Psychologist , sex therapist and sex educator teaching at the University of Ottawa, Canada, July 30, 2002)

The web site has also given Revise F65 a good opportunity to disseminate a range of material about its work. Psychologist Odd Reiersøl’s 2002 article “SM: Causes and diagnoses“, in particular, was a great inspiration both in Norway and abroad. To our knowledge, the article has been translated into German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Russian, in addition to Norwegian and English.

In november 2002 member of the Revise committee Eric Barstad (picture) attended the lesbian SM congress WALP in Amsterdam. 148 participants from eleven countries listened to her briefing about the diagnoses, and during a mini workshop she made important international contacts.

The story and effort of the ReviseF65 project was printed late 2002 in the Bulletin of the Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology. The ReviseF65 committee asked for, and received support on April 29, 2003 and May 8, 2003 from the Norwegian Association of Gay and Lesbian Physicians (HLLF) and the Norwegian Society for Clinical Sexology (NFKS). NFKS state:  “The Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology in its support wishes to emphasize that the use of psychiatric diagnoses in relation to homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual fetishists, sadomasochists and transvestic fetishists is stigmatizing and therefore an encroachment upon this group as a whole” (letter of June 11, 2003).

“We have been working with the Revise F65 diagnoses for some years now and we realise that it has a long way to go. But if I live till I am eighty, and we are taken off the sick list at that time, I will be fairly pleased. You can compare it with the fight for gay and lesbian human rights. It took a long time for them to be deleted from the sick list too.” Svein Skeid (52) interviewed by the SMil magazine no 4, 2002.

Dr. Charles Moser (picture) held a a lecture for the American Psychiatric Association’s APA’s annual meeting in San Francisco May 16-22, 2003. Revise F65 project psychiatrist Reidar Kjær had a one hour long talk with Dr. Moser in connection with the APA Conference.

On June 20, 2003, psychiatrist Reidar Kjær (picture) held the presentation “Do we need all the Paraphilias?” at the International Psychiatric Conference on Diagnosis in Psychiatry. This was held in Vienna Austria and arranged by the World Psychiatric Association. Dr Kjær also held lectures (in Norwegian) entitled “Are SM and Fetish still diseases?” at the Gay Pride Days in Kristiansand on June 6, at the Gay Pride week in Oslo on June 24, and at the SM house “Nonna” October 24.

On June 28, 2003 during the Gay Pride Week in Oslo, Svein Skeid was honouredwith the Gay Person of the Year Award, because of his SM human rights work in general, and the ReviseF65 work to remove SM and fetish diagnoses. The award was an acknowledgement to everybody that has supported and contributed to the ReviseF65 work (and that is many people!). Among them the contributing organizations LLH, SMil, SLM, Smia and our specialists in psychology and psychiatry. The award is also an acknowledgement to everybody working for an open and inclusive leather/SM/fetish society.

LLH leader Tore Holte Follestad personally delivered a letter from the ReviseF65 committee to Mr. Dagfinn Høybråten, Minister of Health (Christian Democratic Party) on November 28, 2003. This laid out the professional and human rights arguments which underlie the move to take away the SM and Fetish diagnoses. We never got any answer to this letter.

Two days later, November 30, 2003, SMia and Revise F65 also sent the application “Diagnoses, discrimination and HIV” to the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs [avd. Forebyggende sosial- og helsetjenester] asking them to remove stigmatizing psychiatric diagnoses from the Norwegian version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). We never got any answer to this question either.

March 10-14, 2003, two members of the ReviseF65 mailing list; the Brazilian sexologist and clinical psychologist Maria Cristina Martins and the psychologist, psychoanalyst, Ph.D. in Psychopathology and Psychoanalysis by Paris VII University, Paulo Roberto Ceccarelli, presented a survey about SM and Fetish diagnoses at the XV World Congress of Sexology in Cuba. Their article, “The so-called “deviant” sexualities: Perversion or right to difference?”, can be read at the Revise web site. Dr. Charles Moser also gave a lecture about the paraphilia diagnoses at the same conference. Moser and Peggy J. Kleinplatz’ article “DSM-IV-TR and the Paraphilias: An Argument for Removal”, can also be found linked up from the ReviseF65 main page.

The ReviseF65 index page was renovated in 2003, with separate professional and human rights sections. In the professional part you can read Dorothy Hayden’s article “Is Sadomasochism a mental pathology?“.

After ReviseF65 lectures and strategy talks in Cologne 2002, Berlin 2004, and Fulda 2007, the federal German BVSM e.V. organization since 2004 is working towards the same goal as ReviseF65 – to delete the national German version of the F65-diagnoses. The same do Smart Rhein-Ruhr, BDSM Berlin, Papiertiger, die Datenschlag-Chronik des Sadomasochismus and Das Fetish & BDSM-Referat Uni Ulm.

After five workshops at Europride in Manchester 2003, SM Pride in London 2003 and Kinkfest in London 2004, Revise F65 cooperates with Spanner Trust and International Mr Leather 2003, John Pendal, who became our official supporter and world wide ambassador. He also visited Revise F65 in Oslo, May 2004.

Lectures on Revise F65 were given at two international psychiatrist congresses and onesexology congress in 2004.

In 2004 Revise F65 established a bank account and made it possible to use a “Make a donation”-button on the ReviseF65 webpage.

In November 2004 Revise F65 published a case study indicating that stigmatizing psychiatric diagnoses legitimize harassment and violence towards the fetish/SM population.

We also published evidence that SM/fetish people have no higher degree of psychopathologythan the rest of the population. Revise F65 also tried to carry out our own research projects. But in spite of several attempts, we didn’t succeed. The efforts were aborted due to lack of support from the educational and political institutions approached.

According to Wikipedia, “ReviseF65 is now [2004] by far the most active and visible groupworking with sexual politics and human rights for sadomasochists and fetishists in Norway.”




May 2005 the leader of Smia and Revise F65 contributed to the brochure S&M and fetish sex between men, dealing with how to go about sadomasochism and fetish sex between men safely without transmitting HIV and other kinds of sexually transmitted infections. Supported by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and Social Welfare, translated to English December 4, 2007.

June 23, 2005 the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid gave a lecture on the subject: “SM – health or disease?” at the Faculty of Theology (!) in Oslo, Norway for 90 gay and lesbian christians from all over Europe.

Revise F65 not only cooperates with mental health professionals. October 17, 2005, we published the article ”SM and the law”, concluding that SM or sadomasochism is legal in Norway as long as consent is given and no serious injury is inflicted. It is illegal to leave somebody helpless in bondage, and a safeword is highly recommended. The author of the article, Halvor Frihagen, is a lawyer in Oslo, Norway.


At the international Labour Day May 1, 2006, the Norwegian Labour Party arranged an “Online May Day March” where everybody was encouraged to propose online slogans for Mai 1-banners. The banner “Say no to discrimination of homosexuals” was approved by the webmaster. SMil and Revise F65 proposed “Say no to discrimination of BDSM people”. The banner was removed. So was the slogan “Remove fetish and SM diagnoses”. SMil and Revise F65 wrote letters to the Norwegian Labour Party protesting against censorship of kinky friendly slogans in an online May Day 2006 parade. We also had a meeting with the gay and lesbian Labour Party group.

The short film “The Gay Leather man” (“Lærhomsen”) with participants from SMia, SLM and Revise F65, was shown for the first time June 23, 2006 in Oslo. The 25 minute long documentary, which in a humorous way demystifies the most common prejudices against fetishism and sadomasochism, has later been shown for several educational purposes in addition to film festivals including Lillehammer Norway, Volda Norway, Gay Days in Oslo, Fulda Germany, Stockholm, Cleveland, San Francisco, Kiel Germany, and several times at CineKink New York. English subtitles.

An article by Cand. Psycol Odd Reiersøl and Svein Skeid on the Revise 65 project published in Sadomasochism, Powerful Pleasures (2006), concludes that The ICD diagnoses of Fetishism, Transvestic fetishism and Sadomasochism are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing. The article was published simultaneously in a special, double issue of the periodical Journal of Homosexuality Volume 50, 2/3.

Revise F65 in 2006 established a cooperation with The National Leather Association’s Domestic violence project and published an article about the differences between SM and violence.

September 28, 2006. The lesbian, BDSM and trans activist Tore Barstad/Eric Jåsunddied 32 years old from complications related to type 1 diabetes. Eric participated in the constitution of Revise F65 and has been leader of Smia and Revise F65. Eric was a self-defined female to unisexual SM/leather/rubber transgender person. Eric participated in dozens of press interviews and seminars to demystify SM. In particular Eric held close contact with the national and international lesbian BDSM community, including the Swedish lesbian BDSM group LASH, which was a central actor to repeal fetish and SM diagnoses in Sweden.


January 2007. ”With leather for freedom”. Interview with the leader of Smia and Revise F65 Svein Skeid about his BDSM human rights work for more than twenty years, included the work to remove fetish and SM diagnoses. The periodical Cupido no 1, 2007.

February 17, 2007. The leader of Revise F65 Svein Skeid informed the SLM annual general meeting about the book project ”Sadomasochism: Powerful Pleasures” (2006), which SLM supported financially. Especially I emphasized the historical role of gay leather men and women as a primary driving force behind establishment of the ReviseF65 movement, the gay and lesbian movement, the leather pride flag and the moral ethical slogan ”Safe, sane, consensual”.

In applications of February 15, 2007 and February 15, 2008, to the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Affairs (Departement for environment and health), SMia and Revise F65 offered to give lectures for staff members at the Directorate about the stigmatizing effect of fetish and SM diagnoses on the fetish/SM population. The offer was never replied to.

April 15-19, 2007, psychologist Odd Reiersøl (picture) gave an important lecture at the WAS-congress (World Association for Sexual health) in Sidney Australia. Mental health professionals and health politicals from all over the world attended, among them several Norwegians. The lecture was later published as the article “The Fetish and SM Diagnoses in ICD-10” in the Journal of the Norwegian Psychological Association, Vol 45, no 6, 2008, pp 754-756.

Psychiatrist Reidar Kjær May 3, 2007 held the lecture “Stigma, psychiatry and the SM/fetish diagnoses” on a sexologist seminar about Shame and Sexuality at Sexologisenteret NB 22 in Oslo. We also showed the documentary “The Gay Leatherman”.

May 7, 2007 Classification Coordinator Bedirhan Ustun, MD, at the World Health Organization in Geneva invited Revise F65 to cooperate with the work leading up to the ICD-11 revision:

“The revision process of ICD from 10 to 11 is about to start and will be revised for the 11th version tentatively in 2015. The revision work will include special attention to Chapter V Mental and Behavioural disorders (F00-F99). Thanks for your interest in the ICD work and we hope to collaborate with you in the revision process.”

June, 2007. ”After the US considerably revised their DSM Manual spring 1994 and Denmark totally repealed their transvestism and SM diagnoses 1994/95, there is not anylonger only one way to read the ICD bible”. Svein Skeid’s article ”SM – myths and reality” at the Norwegian gay web community Gaysir.


July 29, 2008. During Europride in Stockholm, Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had talks with RFSU, participated in panel discussions and gave a presentation about the Revise F65 work. We literally gave them our memory stick with all relevant political health arguments and scientific evidence.

November 17, 2008, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) announced that Fetishism and Sadomasochism, along with four other sexual behaviours will be deleted from Sweden’s national version of the ICD diagnoses from January 1, 2009.

November 17, 2008. In a press release, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid characterized the Swedish decision as a victory for the fetish/SM population and for the Revise F65 strategy to motivate other countries to remove their national versions of the ICD SM/fetish diagnoses.

November 18, 2008. The Norwegian BDSM Organization SMil sent a letter to the Ministry of Health and Care Services asking him to remove fetish and SM diagnoses in Norway. In an answer December 19, 2008 the Ministry of Health and Care Services said they had given the Directorate of Health the responsibility to take a decision in the case.


January 1, 2009. Inspired by Revise F65, the six diagnoses sadomasochism, fetishism, transvestism, fetishistic transvestism, multiple disorders of sexual preferences and gender identity disorder in youth, were deleted from Sweden’s official list of medical diagnoses. Except for gender identity disorder in youth, these are the same diagnoses that Revise F65 recommends be removed from the ICD, the International Classification of Diseases.

February 2, 2009, psychologist Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had a short meeting at the Norwegian Directorate of Health where we delivered a memorandum with health political and professional arguments explaining why the SM and fetish diagnoses should be removed from the Norwegian ICD-edition.

February 3, 2009, the Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid participated in the Norwegian tv program ”Studio fem”, demonstrating safer SM techniques and telling the audience the reason why SM and fetishism no longer are diseases in Sweden.

At a meeting with the Revise F65 committee and the Norwegian Directorate of Health May 11, 2009, Senior adviser Arild Johan Myrberg informed us that a decision to repeal Norwegian fetish and SM diagnoses can be announced fall 2009 with the intention of bringing the decision into force January 1, 2010.

September 17, 2009: Most English articles updated on, dead links removed or updated and English explanations added to several Norwegian articles.

September 24, 2009. In accordance with the invitation to Revise F65 from the WHO coordinator Bedirhan Ustun MD, May 7, 2007, Revise F65 sent an ”ICD White Paper” with health political and professional arguments to WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, which is responsible for the ICD revision. The World Health Organization has now started the 11th revision of the International Classification of Diseases, and an ICD-11 alpha draft is expected to be ready by May 10, 2010.

October 12, 2009. In a mail to Revise F65 from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Senior adviser Arild Johan Myrberg informed that a decision to repeal Norwegian fetish and SM diagnoses once more is postponed with no specified date for bringing the decision into force.

November 18, 2009, psychologist Odd Reiersøl and Revise F65 leader Svein Skeid had a 40 minutes long phone talk with Senior Project Officer Dr. Geoffrey M. Reed, responsible for the revision of the ICD-10 Mental and Behavioural Disorders at WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Dr. Reed expressed great interest in the fact that more and more countries now remove fetish and SM diagnoses from their national versions of the ICD.

According to Dr. Reed, substantial changes in the ICD are dependent upon broad scientific and political support.

”It will be helpful for the recommendations to come from as broad an international coalition as possible, if possible with the formal involvement or endorsement of scientific and professional societies or governments.”
(Mail to Revise F65 September 25, 2009.)

November 30, 2009, Revise F65 sent a new letter to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services expressing deep consern about the fact that the decision to remove fetish and SM diagnoses has been postphoned three times by the Directorate of Health. Supported by several psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists and mental health organizations, we stressed that the more countries that change their national ICD versions, the bigger is the chance that WHO will follow suit.

December 4, 2009. The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services now supports Revise F65 100%. In a letter from the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Directorate of Health was instructed to remove the diagnoses of Transvestism, Fetishism and Sadomasochism from the Norwegian version of ICD-10 from 2010. The Ministry asked for a confirmation by December 21, 2009.

December 21, 2009. In their answer to the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Directorate of Health pointed out that they are positive to the idea to remove Transvestism, Fetishism and Sadomasochism from the Norwegian version of ICD-10, just like Sweden has done. The Directorate strongly apologized for all the delays in 2009, and aimed to bring the case to a conclusion by February 1, 2010. “The decision can then possibly be brought into force immediately”, the Directorate wrote.

December 21, 2009. The next weeks Revise F65 will send a “Call to action” to our contacts world wide asking for testimony, quoted reference and supporting evidence from psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists, researchers of human sexuality and organizations in order to remove Fetishism, Sadomasochism and Transvestic Fetishism as paraphilic diagnoses from ICD, The International Classification of Diseases published by WHO. Such statements should be sent to Revise F65 (mail: sskeid(A), and will be forwarded by us to WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

As Dr. Reed emphasized, it will also be of great importance to move as many countries as possible to change their national diagnoses of Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism and Sadomasochism.

Revise F65 recommend to abolish the following ICD diagnoses because they are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing.

F65.0 Fetishism

F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism

F65.5 Sadomasochism

F65.6 Multiple disorders of sexual preference

F64.1 Dual-role transvestism

See more health political and professional arguments at:



Svein Skeid,

Leader of Revise F65


Examples of statements, quotes and evidence of support: