Laughter can always be heard when the question is raised "Is BDSM Legal?" .  You will normally get a response like “Of course it is legal!” as a first reaction, as if to imply “what a silly a question to be asked”. This would normally be followed with a statement like “There is nothing sinister about BDSM and you should not be ashamed of your lifestyle choice or sexual orientation”, and for the greater part this is true. To prosecute someone legally or by opinion for their sexual orientation is discrimination. But we should consider this question more deeply as there is more to this subject than a simple dismissal. Most of us come from or live in civilized cultures that have evolved, they include things like respect for other individuals regardless of law.. Equal rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and anti discrimination are all words that we know. But, legality really depends on your location. Maybe you are not so free to do with your body as you thought you were. Once laughter regarding the question of legality softens, usually a more in-depth discussion occurs.
BDSM and legality is a gray area, some areas not so gray whilst other areas more gray. The softer side of BDSM has very few issues, additionally if the couple was in a long term relationship.  The harder side of BDSM coupled with new partners, has a few things that one should consider. Consent and assault being the primary issue. Laws differ from country to country, sometimes state to state. The Netherlands, Canada, Germany and Australia etc all have different laws.  In Germany the practice of absolute extreme BDSM is rarely and very difficult to penalize, as where the British law does not recognize the consent to actual bodily harm, and such acts are illegal. You need to be aware of the laws of your state, territory or country.

Sadly there are stories of legal cases being brought forward by scorned or jealous partners denying that consent was ever given as they seek relationship revenge. Most courts may see through this, but there is the inconvenience and or embarrassment of lawyers and appointments, not to mention costs. This only emphasizes the need for agreements, written, verbal and or maybe a quick friendly video with your telephone. The importance of agreements can not be understated. Then there is the Dominant that breaches a submissive's trust, safe word or agreed boundaries. BDSM is not a reason for abuse and should never be accepted as one, in fact BDSM should only be used to bring a couple closer together via their lifestyle choice, fetishes and trust in each other.

Placing the scorned or unstable partners to one side and looking to the greater psychologically stable part of the human race, there are healthy and genuine reasons for agreements. Agreements allow each party to negotiate and understand the role-play or sexual activities that they are engaging in, and lets not forget the establishment of the magic safe word. Most experienced couples or BDSM practitioners utilize written agreements. These function within relationships as a negotiated document of roles (Dominance and submission), role play conditions etc.. and lastly as a written document that both formulated and signed.  Agreements in many cases may not be completely legal, but they can serve as a document of evidence. Moving back to the subject of consent and assault being the primary issue of legality.
       
        The general definition of assault is,

        "A person commits assault when without consent of another person he/she applies force intentionally to another person, directly or indirectly."


      The key word  above is “Consent”. Again this only emphasizes the need for agreements, more specifically written agreements.
      A cautionary note is, most laws also state,

        "Consent can not be given to an assault that is considered a type of socially unacceptable behavior and it can not be more than a trifle act."

Firstly does your region consider BDSM as a socially unacceptable behavior? Then you need to ask, what is a trifle act? A spanking? A whipping? Or activity that leaves bruises? I will leave that up to the reader to decide.  But as a note of interest and food for thought, a boxing match is legal between two consenting individuals, if this is done in the bedroom, does this make it illegal? BDSM participants as far as i know do not practice boxing, actually their activities are far less aggressive or harmful. I think this is food for thought.  The easiest way to protect yourself is to play with people that you trust and know. Avoid novices and unstable characters, or assess the person for their psychological stability in previous relationships.  What would their reaction be if you decided to terminate the relationship? What has been their reaction in past relationships? Avoid behaviors that can cause or inflict a serious injury. Always use an agreement that establishes clearly defined boundaries. Use a safe word and keep it safe sane and consensual.

To prosecute someone legally or by opinion for their sexual orientation is discrimination, when it is two or more consenting adults that are behind closed doors practicing their own lifestyle choice. But! The type of act needs consideration. You need to be aware of the laws and politics in your region.





External related articles for further reading
Fae,J.(2014) "Is the government finally ready to legalise BDSM? ", http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/12/government-finally-ready-legalise-bdsm ,
[Online 01 December 2014](Accessed 21-September 2015)
Luksic, N (2015) "BDSM in Canada is 50 shades of legal grey ", http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/bdsm-in-canada-is-50-shades-of-legal-grey-1.2969194 ,
[Online Feb 26, 2015](Accessed 21-September 2015)
Scott A. McGreal MSc (2015) "BDSM, Personality and Mental Health", https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/unique-everybody-else/201307/bdsm-personality-and-mental-health ,
[Online 25 July2013](Accessed 21-September 2015)