Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Councils paying for disabled people to have sex! - Part 2

Following on from my previous blogs, I have been somewhat intrigued by the level of interest that has been shown in the subject matter, namely disabled people and sex. Normally, I would be pleased to hear that disabled issues were being discussed but unfortunately most of what I have heard has not been very positive.

Having listened to a discussion on this subject on BBC Radio 5 Live it is evident that the topic is not as clear cut as everyone thinks and I feel that there are three main issues/questions that are raised by my blogs and I wanted to clarify these.

If a local authority is paying in full for a disabled person together with the support that is needed to go to Amsterdam to have sex, then I think that this is quite questionable and is something that I do not entirely agree with.

If a local authority is paying for the disabled person to have sex in Amsterdam due to the barriers faced by the disabled person that impacts on their ability to form personal relationships including those of a sexual nature, then we have to look at the motives further. Is it that Holland has been chosen because they have a more liberal attitude towards sex and a better level of disability equality? If so, then this argument would be extremely questionable and we have to ask ourselves whether the local authority would pay for a non-disabled person to travel to Amsterdam for sex purely because they may find it equally challenging to form personal relationships. I suspect the answer to this one would be a resounding no and therefore taking a different view towards the disabled person is clearly discriminatory against the non-disabled person.

If a local authority is purely paying for the support that enables the disabled person to travel to Amsterdam for sex but the disabled person meets the cost of the actual sex service and their travel etc, then this is more understandable and one that I would fully endorse. This option can be seen as an extension of independent living and disability equality. The fact that the act itself takes place in Amsterdam is irrelevant as the venue has been chosen as it is legal there and is not so in the UK.

It is extremely concerning that we may all be making assumptions on this subject without being in possession of the full facts but the attitudes and solutions to this difficult issue must be examined closely to ensure that a fair and understandable outcome is attained. I do feel it may be almost impossible to find a solution that is beyond scrutiny and the moral outrage of many.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Councils paying for disabled people to have sex!

A recent story caught my eye in the Daily Mail and whilst I have to be mindful that this particular paper has a history of sensationalism when reporting disability issues, I did think it tied in with my previous blog.

The headline and the story itself will cause a certain amount of controversy particularly at this moment in time when all benefits are being heavily scrutinised to weld the axe on the cheats and it will be seen by those who have no real experience of disability as society gone mad! However, we need to look at the genuine facts behind the story.

The emphasis of the story is that some Local Authorities are paying for fun and frolicking in Amsterdam for sexual pleasure but this is most misleading. The person in question is in receipt of a Personal Budget from their Local Authority and has made an informed choice and that choice should be theirs alone. The only thing that is important here is that they have a personal need and the need can be met – the actual need is irrelevant and should not be questioned.

The Personal Budget scheme is in place to empower the independence and well-being of disabled people and let me tell you the process for applying for a Personal Budget is not easy. Every aspect of your life and needs are delved into. At times the process is extremely intrusive and for many this can deter them from continuing with any application but it does identify the genuine needs of the disabled person and identifies clear outcomes.

Personal Budget funds provide a disabled person with independence and an enhancement to their lives. If we want to look at this fully, we need to understand and be broadminded enough to accept that disabled people do have sexual needs and for some, establishing committed relationships can be difficult. Therefore, paid sex can seem the only option.

More importantly, we need to remember that like everyone disabled people have Human Rights, namely the freedom of choice i.e. how to spend their personal budgets and freedom to have a sex life in whatever form they choose.

Yet again the headlines do not convey the true facts behind the story and another negative representation of disabled people hits the streets fuelling the moral outrage against disability.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Disabled People & Sex

Sex is always a sensitive subject to talk about and disabled people engaging in sex is even more so. However, everyone has the right to sexual expression but the way we act as a society often makes it difficult to speak about and many disabled people feel they have no right to speak about this very subject but this is precisely what I, and many others, who are Social Model Practitioners, are trying to change.

As a disabled person, if I mention the subject of sex than many people will gasp aloud or giggle outrageously but why? Disabled people like all others should have the right to a sex life! It is after all human nature. Admittedly there may be challenges, things may be more difficult and even time-consuming but the end result is a feeling of satisfaction and emotional enhancement that everyone deserves.

Let’s get one thing straight – disabled people are very interested in sex and surprise surprise can enjoy sexual activities just like non-disabled people.

There are a number of widely misconceived notions around this subject. For many, there is this myth that disabled people lose all interest in sex, particularly if the disability is caused by injury, but disabled people have healthy sex lives and most, if not all, of the myths out there should be dismissed as nonsense.

Many of the myths can be linked back to this unfounded belief within society that disabled people are somehow dependent and should be protected at all costs. We need to remember that whilst there may be some limitations, a disability does not make you any less of a person and most disabled people remain independent for most of their daily living and that includes sexual activity.

Disabled people have all the regular aspirations, expectations and desires that everyone else has. Therefore, please remember that a disabled person still has the fundamental features and qualities that make him or her attractive at some level. Sexual attraction comes in many guises; a simple look, a gentle touch, some loving words or that certain smile. Love and lust happens for disabled people just as it does for non-disabled people and with a little imagination you never know what might happen!