Saturday 7 December 2019

Charity calls for 'unfair' law on sexual offences to be changed

'Law can stop people with intellectual/learning disability from having an intimate relationship' - Inclusion Ireland

Love/Hate actress Charlie Murphy launched 'Sanctuary' with lead actors Charlene Kelly and Kieran Coppinger.
Love/Hate actress Charlie Murphy launched 'Sanctuary' with lead actors Charlene Kelly and Kieran Coppinger.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A leading Irish charity has called for the law on sexual offences to be changed – to improve conditions for people with intellectual disabilities.

The 1993 Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act criminalises sexual intercourse with certain people, including some people with intellectual disability.

Although the law’s purpose is to protect people who have an intellectual disability from abuse, it also effectively criminalised consensual sex involving some people with intellectual disabilities.

Inclusion Ireland Self-Advocacy Committee PRO Adrian Noonan said: “The 1993 sexual offences law needs to be amended as it can stop persons with an intellectual/learning disability from having an intimate relationship with their partners outside of marriage.”

“This is unfair because it’s basically saying that we are not equal citizens in our own country and that we are unable to decide for ourselves how to run own lives and make these decisions for ourselves.”

Inclusion Ireland CEO Paddy Connolly said: “Most of us take our right to have intimate relationships for granted, the right to love and be loved, the right to physical and emotional expression of that love. People with an intellectual disability face significant barriers to enjoying that same right.”

“Prejudice, ambiguous laws, resistance from families or services create obstacles for many people with an intellectual disability in fulfilling their desire for intimacy. Everyone should see this play which highlights the challenges that some people with an intellectual disability face.”

To highlight the issue, Inclusion Ireland and Down Syndrome Ireland will be hosting the award-winning play ‘Sanctuary’ next Wednesday December 3 at the Liberty Hall Theatre, Eden Quay, Dublin 1.

A pre-matinee presentation entitled ‘Change the law on relationships for people with disabilities – we have a right to have intimate relationships’ will take place on Wednesday.

Sanctuary, directed by Petal Pilley, enjoyed sell-out success at the Galway Theatre Festival before going on to play Galway Arts Festival and Dublin Fringe Festival.

Actors Charlene Kelly and Kieran Coppinger - both of whom have an intellectual disability - - will play the lead roles in the touching drama.

Tickets for the next week’s shows are on sale on www.downsyndrome.ie

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