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But if you agree with me, that sex is a part of life, and fundamental to a relationship between two people who love each other, you’d be wrong. His government passed a law, the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act, 1871, which labelled people with an intellectual disability as lunatics.There is one group of adults in Ireland for whom sexual expression is illegal. Although it will change soon, that is still the law in Ireland, and it denies people who have an intellectual disability the right to make basic decisions.
That act — still in force — refers to “any woman or girl who is an idiot, or an imbecile, or is feeble-minded”.
It’s difficult, of course, to put yourself into the minds of legislators of that era.
Back in 1990, it published a report on Sexual Offences Against the Mentally Handicapped.
In that report, it said the law must “respect the rights of the mentally handicapped to sexual fulfilment and should not pose unnecessary obstacles to intimate relationships, which find sexual expression, where one of the partners is mentally disabled”. When Frieda spoke to the Law Reform Commission, it was planning to revisit the subject, because no change had happened.
The talk she gave then resonated with the commission — so much so that when it completed its latest report, and readied it for publication last week, it asked Frieda to launch it.