Fous d’Amour

Love, sexuality and mental handicap: putting these three words together is like adding up the taboos.

Love, sexuality and mental handicap: putting these three words together is like adding up the taboos. Although efforts have undoubtedly been made in recent years to address access to sexuality and emotional life for people with an intellectual disability, the subject continues to be a source of embarrassment, even real unease. In response, I have gone to meet people with disabilities, their families and the professionals who care for them to try to understand how, in concrete terms, love and sexuality can be experienced.

In Belgium, do people with mental disabilities have the right to a « normal » sexual and emotional life? Asking this question immediately raises a series of other ethical questions that are constantly being asked by relatives and carers. Should contraception (or even sterilization) be imposed on them? How can we protect them from AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases? How can we deal with parenthood? Can they be allowed to have children if they want to? How do we talk about homosexuality?

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