Free to consent

A new paper by Ben Ramanauskas, an independent researcher, for the UK think tank the Adam Smith Institute makes the case for reforming the law to allow people to consent to activities such as body modification, BDSM, and transhumanism. Under English law, consent is not a defence to a charge of actual bodily harm (ABH) or grievous bodily harm (GBH), except for certain socially sanctioned activities.The type of activities in which consent is a valid defence has been arbitrarily determined by the judiciary, reflecting their biases and prejudices, rather than an objective determination of consent and harm. Although undoubtedly well intentioned, and designed to protect individuals or society from harm, past verdicts that prevent people from consenting to certain activities represent a serious infringement on personal liberty. If the Government wishes to enable greater personal freedom, protect minority expressions, and enable emerging technologies, the Offences Against the Person Act should be reformed so that consent becomes a valid defence to charges of ABH and GBH.

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