Sexual rights, mental disorder and intellectual disability: principles and law

Le Gallez, Isabelle, Rix, Keith J. B., Choong, Kartina Aisha orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9407-1771 and Dewson, Helen (2018) Sexual rights, mental disorder and intellectual disability: principles and law. BJPsych Advances, 24 (5). pp. 334-345. ISSN 2056-4678

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People with mental disorder and intellectual disability have the same rights to sexual expression as other people, albeit that in some cases a lack of capacity may require curtailment of those rights and regard must be had to protecting the vulnerable. Furthermore, the formation or maintenance of sexual relations, or the attainment of sexual fulfilment, may assist in the maintenance or restoration of mental health or well-being. This article demonstrates how the courts in England and Wales, applying statute law and judicial precedent, are largely supportive of the rights of people with mental disorder or intellectual disability to make decisions about sexual expression, sexual relationships and related matters, notwithstanding some societal and staff attitudes that act to prevent them fulfilling their sexual needs and making decisions about sexual and reproductive matters.

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