Right to Sex and Relationships Campaign for Those With Learning Disabilities

by Thilaka Ravi on Aug 4 2008 4:21 PM

‘It’s My Right!’ is a new campaign that is being launched in the UK, highlighting the rights of people with learning disabilities to sex and relationships.

The campaign follows research that revealed people with learning disabilities are often denied the information and education to help them pursue relationships. The FPA (formerly, the Family Planning Association} that is initiating the campaign has come up with a CD-Rom on sex, sexuality and relationships for those with learning disabilities and a series of posters to highlight the issue.

Julie Bentley, chief executive of FPA, said: "Living independently means more than getting qualifications and securing a job."

“Expressing your sexuality and enjoying a relationship is something everyone values. But poor sex education and fears about exploitation can stand in the way of this happening for people with learning disabilities.”

“Information and skills must be available to people with learning disabilities so they can enjoy intimate relationships without putting themselves at risk. FPA would like to see more recognition of the importance of sex and relationships in their lives,” Julie Bentley added.

One of the poster models for the It’s My Right! campaign Joseph Greene, 23, from Islington in North London said, “I want to meet a girl I can become friends with, take to the pub and the cinema and then after a couple of months see where it goes.” “But it's difficult out there,” he added.

Dame Jo Williams, chief executive of a learning disability charity Mencap, observed that people with a learning disability should have the same right as everybody else to express their emotions and sexuality. 

“However, appropriate support must be in place, so that people with a learning disability can make informed decisions about sex, and those who don't have the capacity to consent to sexual activity, must be protected,” Dame Jo Williams added.