The Icelandic Directorate of Health has issued an official recommendation for BDSM to be declassified as a disease. Iceland is the fifth country in the world to remove BDSM from the offical list of diseases.

BDSM – short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission/sadism and masochism – will no longer be seen as a disease following an official recommendation by the Icelandic Directorate of Health. Iceland follows the lead of its Nordic neighbours Denmark (which declassified BDSM as a disease in 1994/5) and Sweden (2009), Norway (2010) and Finland (2012).

The change in policy comes after a request from the Icelandic BDSM Association which asked for BDSM to be removed from the official list of diseases earlier this year. In September the Icelandic Directorate of Health announced it would be willing to do so. Following the recommendation, dual-role transvestism, fetishism, fetishistic transvestism and sadomasochism will now all be removed from the Icelandic register of diseases.

BDSM in Europe

While Iceland now deems classifying BDSM as a disease to be ‘inappropriate’ and BDSM has become  more accepted in general pop culture over the years, many countries still officially list BDSM as an illness or an act of violence punishable by law. For example, in 2015 The Netherlands’ Ministry of Justice requested an official research report on BDSM in Holland to determine whether legal action should be taken against BDSM and those who practice it. The report was published in 2015 and stated there was no reason to take legal actions against those engaging in BDSM. Nevertheless, BDSM is still officially considered as a mental illness in The Netherlands, as well as many other countries in Europe and the world.

Update: 13-12-2015

As our visitors point out: BDSM was removed as a mental illness from the DSM-V. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the leading guideline in many countries, including The Netherlands. They removed the name BDSM from it entirely in DSM 4 (1994) and put it back in in version 5 (2013) to be able to name the difference between normal BDSM behavior and BDSM-related behavior that is not healthy. More here. That said, BDSM is still seen as a mental illness or an act of violence by general society and the law in most countries.

Source: SMil Norge, Iceland Monitor
Picture Credits: vintage advertisement by Mister B

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2 Response Comments

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    Daniel Russell12/12/2015 at 17:36

    Sorry to quibble, but I think it makes Iceland the fifth country to remove the stigma. Anyway, the Nordic countries are, as always, much more advanced than the rest of us in most things. Best wishes.

      LeatherHistory.eu13/12/2015 at 12:37

      Thank you for pointing that out, we have changed it in the article.


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