New sexuality and relationships charter
Lockdown has highlighted for so many of us just how important a loving partnership is, so everyone involved in developing this new Sexuality and Relationships - My Rights Charter felt it was still relevant to share it.
The theme for this year's Learning Disability Week is ‘Friendships and connections during lockdown’, this was a change from the original theme of ‘Sex and relationships’.
My Life My Choice, the Supported Loving network, the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), and the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent, were already responding and working together on the original theme of sex and relationships before the COVID-19 outbreak. Everyone involved in developing this new Sexuality and Relationships - My Rights Charter felt it was still relevant to share it.
The Supported Loving network is a human rights campaign. We campaign to uphold and respect the rights of people with a learning disability around their sexuality and relationships. During lockdown, the restrictions on our relationships and physical contact with others have felt alien. Yet research shows repeatedly that restrictions in this area are not alien to people with learning disabilities. We know at Supported Loving that many people with learning disabilities, and those supporting them, are not aware of their fundamental human rights around sexuality and relationships. Supported Loving is passionate about creating a real change to this lack of understanding. We want people with learning disabilities to read the charter (or be supported to engage with and understand it) so they, and their supporters, are aware of their rights and will know when these aren’t being upheld and respected.
The charter draws on the findings from two research projects. The first carried out by the Tizard Centre and the second by NDTi and My Life My Choice. Both show how important having a relationship is and the barriers that people with learning disabilities continue to face. We’ve shared all the research findings at events and at our Supported Loving network meetings to ensure that the voices of people with learning disabilities were heard and included within the charter.
My Life My Choice were also fundamental to its development, providing expert advice on its accessibility and content.
We are calling on all organisations providing support to people with learning disabilities to share the charter widely and to pledge to uphold and respect the rights of people they support around their sexuality and relationships.
We want the charter to be used in several ways, to:
- Start having conversations with the people you support to help them understand their rights.
- Start conversations about how people might want to learn or get information about sex or relationships.
- Help people think about their relationships and how they could develop more meaningful relationships and friendships.
- Ask organisations to review how they support people's sexuality and relationships. Are human rights always upheld and respected?
- Ask how can we support people to have more meaningful relationships or friendships.
- Question whether other professionals are acting lawfully, or do they need to be challenged? Remember best interests’ decisions surrounding sex need to be referred to the Court of Protection. No one else has the authority to take these decisions.
You can read the new charter or watch an accessible video about it (below) created by My Life My Choice.