In 2007, the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF) again took the lead in defending the rights of individuals and groups in the SM-leather-fetish, swing and polyamory communities. NCSF‘s coalition of over 50 educational and social groups is committed to creating a political, legal, and social environment in the United States that advances equal rights of consenting adults who practice forms of alternative sexual expression.
NCSF‘s Incident Response team is directed by Director Leigha Fleming. In total, over 640 individuals, groups, attorneys, prosecutors, and businesses contacted NCSF for help in 2007. Each incident sometimes required only one or two phone calls, but some evolved into much larger projects.
NCSF received 647 distinct inquiries/requests for assistance. 341 required more than one contact/response to resolve, often requiring multiple contacts. It is difficult to categorize many incident requests as clearly falling into one camp or another. Many overlap in categories. For example, many of our custody/divorce related issues involve at least two of our core constituent groups (i.e. SM/leather/fetish and poly for example). In trying to do a statistical breakdown of the requests, we placed it in the category it most clearly matched.
- 12% were requests regarding SM/abuse/domestic violence issues
- 23% were regarding criminal complaint issues
- 4% were regarding employment discrimination
- 14% were regarding child custody/divorce issues
- 2.5% were in reference to child protective services’ complaints
- 17% were related to SM/leather/fetish group issues
- 2% were classed as non-employment discrimination
- 15% were related to swing community issues
- 3% were regarding online obscenity issues
- 4.5% were regarding zoning issues
- 3% were classed as “other”
Of the inquires received:
- 72% were driven by SM/leather/fetish issues
- 19% by swing
- 6% by poly
- 3% by other.
2007 saw an increased number of requests particularly in reference to criminal charges related to SM conduct. NCSF worked with more than 26 attorneys representing defendants in criminal cases. In addition, we worked with more than 17 district attorneys and prosecutors related to SM issues. The vast majority of these criminal cases revolved around domestic abuse or consensual sex/play issues. There is a clear need for education within our own communities about the role and limits of consent and for education to police authorities about the differences between SM and abuse. Some jurisdictions are definitely doing a better job than others. However, it’s been very difficult to see a trend where one area of the country is more tolerant than others. Tolerance still seems to be largely defined by the mindset of the prosecutor or police officer on the scene.
Many swing and SM groups experienced a higher reported rate of troubling incidents with local media, zoning and law enforcement this last year. There’s been a significant increase in reported problems with swing organizations- many of whom are organizing pay at the door events in residential neighborhoods. Clearly we need to begin to address this issue both from within our own constituency and in our work with law and zoning enforcement.
We continue to receive a number of requests for assistance from groups, businesses, and other support organizations who want information about how to operate legally, do law enforcement outreach, file for non-profit status, deal with the media or the press, do hotel/event outreach, or do research around zoning or other legal issues.
We also continue to receive requests for assistance involving parents who were engaged in child custody and divorce cases. Parents continue to experience difficulties gaining child custody due to their interest in SM, swing or poly activities. NCSF worked with a number of attorneys representing parents accused of being unfit because of their alternative lifestyle interests. In many cases, because of information we were able to provide, the courts decided that alternative sexual expression alone was not cause to impugn a parent’s ability to be a good parent.
2008 incident response statistics are currently being compiled. As of the end of July 2008, more than 413 distinct requests for assistance have been processed.
NCSF is here to help you — the SM, swing and polyamory communities. If you have a problem with discrimination, persecution, or harassment because of your sexual expression, please call NCSF for assistance. You can submit a request for assistance online or find a Kink Aware Professional (KAP) on our website as well at www.ncsfreedom.org. Emergency contact information is available by calling our office at 410-539-4824, 24 hours per day.
Please support NCSF in our effort to change the political, legal, and social environment in the United States. We are committed to making a difference. Join NCSF as a member or please hold a fund-raiser and donate to NCSF!