Back in 2011, an UK judge banned a 41 year old man from having sex in one of the most bizarre and potentially controversial verdicts that you are ever likely to come across.
The man, known as Alan, had an IQ of 48 and a moderate learning disability. Alan was living with a man and having sex with him. He told officials “it would make me feel happy” for it to continue. However, his local council decided his “vigorous sex drive” was inappropriate and that with an IQ of 48 and a “moderate” learning disability, he did not understand what he was doing.
A psychiatrist involved in the case even tried to prevent the man being given sex education, on the grounds that it would leave him “confused”.
Mr Justice Mostyn said the case was “legally, intellectually and morally” complex as sex is “one of the most basic human functions” and the court must “tread especially carefully” when the state tries to curtail it.
But he agreed that Alan should not be allowed to have sex with anyone on the grounds that he did not have the mental capacity to understand the health risks associated with his actions.
The case began in June 2009, when the local council started court proceedings to restrict Alan’s contact with the man, identified as Kieron. Alan has been prevented since then from sexual activity, except when he’s alone. Under the judge’s order, the man is subject to “close supervision” by the local authority that provides his accommodation, in order to ensure he does not break the highly unusual order.
The judge concluded: “I therefore make a declaration that at the present time Alan does not have the capacity to consent to and engage in sexual relations. In such circumstances it is agreed that the present regime for Alan’s supervision and for the prevention of future sexual activity is in his best interests.”
This was one of several controversial cases to come before the Court of Protection, a little-known authority whose proceedings are held behind closed doors. In Britain, the Court of Protection can make decisions for people deemed to lack the intelligence to make them themselves. These people can be ordered to undergo surgery, have abortions, be forced to use contraception or even have life support switched off.