Letter from the Spanner Trust
Last year in the UK, the Home Office and Scottish Executive issued a joint public consultation on plans to criminalise possession of extreme pornography. The Trust submitted a response to the public consultation and we also wrote to the consultation co-ordinator outlining our concerns about the way the consultation was being handled. As a result we have been invited to the Home Office's Criminal Law Policy Unit to discuss our concerns. The meeting is scheduled to be held in April and we have been busy preparing for it.
Earlier this year the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) published a discussion paper on Rape and other Sexual Offences. (See the last newsletter for more details.) One area of particular importance to the Spanner Trust is the section on "Sado-masochistic practices", which includes the following proposal and question for consideration:
- The offence of assault should not be constituted by any activity to which all parties have given their consent for purposes of sexual gratification.
- Should it be an assault where the activity referred to in proposal 67 results in, or is likely to result in, serious injury?
The Spanner Trust's response is that the Law Commission of England and Wales has already considered this matter (Consultation Paper "Criminal Law: Consent in the Criminal Law" No.139 para.10.52) and expressed the view that consent should be a defence to assault where injury occurs for sexual pleasure. We agree with that conclusion and so our answers to the proposal and question are:
- YES - the offence of assault should NOT be constituted by any activity to which all parties have given their consent and the purpose should be irrelevant. No exception should be made for love making or any other sexual purpose.
- NO - it should not be an assault if the activity referred to in proposal 67 results in, or is likely to result in, serious injury - unless it is a permanent disabling injury or fatal.
We encourage as many individuals and organisations to respond as possible. (The SLC is willing to accept the views of people outside Scotland.) You can respond only to proposals 67 and 68 if you wish, there is no need to answer any of the other proposals. The discussion paper and response form they can be downloaded from the SLC website at www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/html/discussion_papers.html#dp131 or the Spanner Trust website at www.spannertrust.org
Be aware that your response will be in the public domain under the Scottish Freedom of Information Act and the names of all respondents will be included in the final report. You can request that your response be kept confidential, but please make clear (a) whether you wish the whole response to be treated as confidential, or (b) only part of it, or (c) whether you are happy for the response to be published but for your name to be withheld.
The closing date for responses is 1st May 2006.
EVENTS COMING UP
Spanner Trustees will be at the following events in an official capacity in the few months. Please come up and say hello if you see us:
- Friday 28th to Sunday 30th April - CLEVELAND LEATHER AWARENESS WEEKEND (CLAW)
CLAW is a large weekend gathering in Cleveland, Ohio, packed with social events, educational workshops and a huge silent auction. In 2005 CLAW raised $20,000 (USD) for various charities. The 2006 event includes a presentation about the work of the Spanner Trust. More info at www.clawinfo.org
- Saturday 29th July - KINKFEST3
KINKFEST3 is pansexual fetish weekend in London, UK, with play parties, demos, a large fetish market and workshops. The Spanner Trust will be running a stall during the day on Saturday 29th and co-hosting a workshop on "BDSM and the law" with representatives from Backlash (www.backlash-uk.org.uk). More info about KINKFEST3 at www.unfettered.co.uk/kinkfest3.htm
If you would like to invite the Spanner Trust to speak at your event or gathering please email info (at) spannertrust.org
We are extremely grateful to the following organisations who've made donations to the Spanner Trust since our last newsletter. Every penny donated to the Trust goes towards our efforts to change the UK law so that it is legal for people to engage in activities for sexual pleasure where injury occurs, as long as all parties consent and are all of full legal capacity.
- THE LONDON ALTERNATIVE MARKET raised £670 for the Trust at their launch event on March 5th 2006. The money came from a portion of the admission fee, money spent on food and concessions, and generous donations from individuals and stall-holders on the day. Their website is www.londonalternativemarket.com
- JUST ROPE donated £64 from their February rope bondage event. Their website is www.justrope.co.uk
If you have money from a fundraiser that you would like to forward to the Trust in pounds, dollars or euros, or you would like to make a private donation, please go to www.spannertrust.org/donations.asp
PRESS AND PUBLICITY
We'd also like to thank the following for their help with publicity:
- SKIN TWO LATE EXTRA magazine wrote about the Spanner Trust on page 5 of issue #23 (their website is www.skintwo.com)
- The LONDON FETISH SCENE WEBSITE posted an interview about the Spanner Trust on their site in January. A copy of the interview can be found on the Spanner Trust's website at www.spannertrust.org/indexpage.asp?cat=4
- INSTIGATOR magazine in America included an advert for the Spanner Trust in issue 10, (www.instigatormagazine.com)
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
This month we're asking everyone to do just one thing for us to help publicise the work of the Trust:
- It could be telling a friend that they can join the mailing list to receive this newsletter direct to their inbox by sending an email to subscribe (at) spannertrust.org
- Or asking a website to link to www.spannertrust.org using the banner on the front page of our site.
- You could ask a local venue if they are willing to stock Spanner Trust campaign leaflets (we can mail these to you or they can be downloaded from www.spannertrust.org/documents/spanner_trust_handout.pdf)
- Or you could invite the Spanner Trustees to give a workshop or talk at your local munch, fetish fair or kink-friendly event by emailing us at info (at) spannertrust.org
- Don't forget, if you know someone in trouble because of their SM activities, regardless of their sexuality, please ask them to contact us and we will do our best to help or put them in touch with a legal professional in their area.
Please do one thing for us this month. Together we can make a difference.
Thank you again for all your support, it's much appreciated.
Best wishes, John Pendal
Spanner Trust Chairman
Click here for May '06 letter