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Let’s Talk About Sex…and Disability.

‘Beware the soft bigotry of low expectations’ 

Noel Pearson 

Let’s not beat about the bush. The long shadow that casts its pall over the idea of learning disabled people having sex and intimate relations, has its roots in the eugenics movement. The notion that some people are less than others, and that ‘those people’ should be discouraged from forming relationships and/or have children.  

The fact that learning disabled people have the same human rights as any other person, the same Article 8 right to a private and family life, does not translate into equality of lived experience.   

It is not enough to hope that change will happen. We should not expect learning disabled people to overcome decades (if not centuries) of systemic discrimination, without access to active community support and allyship. dates-n-mates and other dating and friendship agencies offer such support. They explicitly advocate that loving relationships and a sex life is a possibility. They do not offer the promise of happy ever after. That is not a gift that anyone can honestly deliver.  

Support to understand your rights, help to understand your responsibilities, accessible information and ongoing support to navigate the tricky terrain of dating and maintaining a relationship are available. Opportunities to meet others, some additional help to overcome accessibility issues, to smooth difficulties and mediate disagreements are all available. However, as much as this practical support is important, equally significant is the raising of expectations that we all have the rights to friendship, relationships and yes a sex life.* 

*within the parameters of law.  

Sam Smith – C-Change CEO

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