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By Cory Wolfe
A British court has awarded a man with Down syndrome almost $13,000 after the government banned his wife from having sex with him, alleging that he could not give consent to have sex.
Prior to the ban, the man, who remained unidentified, enjoyed “normal conjugal relations” with his wife of five years until an evaluation by a consultant psychologist concluded he did not have the capacity to consent.
The couple, who married in 2010, were ordered to not engage in sexual relations until the man had completed a sexual education course.
His wife, being told that she would be committing a serious criminal offense if she had sex with her husband, was forced to move into a spare bedroom.
She also “significantly reduced any physical expressions of affection” so she would not “lead him on,” the Court of Protection heard.
But the course was delated for more than a year, winning the man damages for what judge Sir Mark Hedley stated in the court document was the “deprivation for at least 12 months of normal conjugal relations with his wife.”
The case was heard after the man’s sister voiced concerns about the delays of the course to the Court of Protection.
“The impact at the time must have been profound, not only for the loss of sexual relations, but for two other matters peculiar to him,” Hedley stated. “First, he would have been unable to understand why what was happening should be so. And secondly, in order, as she put it, ‘not to lead him on,’ the wife understandably and foreseeably withdrew to another bedroom and withheld much physical affection.”
The man was forced to take two courses, because a therapist determined that even though he had made “sufficient progress” after, he still did not demonstrate a clear understanding of sexually transmitted diseases.
Sir Mark said the case was an “unusual” one, as it pertained to a “settled, monogamous and exclusive married relationship.” Generally, cases which address competence to engage in sexual activity involve people seen as vulnerable to being sexually abused or exploited.
“Many would think that no couple should have had to undergo this highly intrusive move upon their personal privacy, yet such a move was in its essentials entirely lawful and properly motivated,” Hedley said.
“As I have said, perhaps it is part of the inevitable price that must be paid to have a regime of effective safeguarding.”