In our series on disability, sex and relationships, expert and resident agony aunt Tuppy – who runs Outsiders, a private club for disabled people looking for a relationship – answers your questions.
Dear Aunty Tuppy,
I am a 32-year-old man with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I have given up on finding a girlfriend, but have a wonderful sex worker in the south of Scotland, where I live. She and I get on wonderfully together and she treats me like a lover.
My worry is that the Scottish government is threatening to ban the buying of sex here. This has already happened in Northern Ireland.
I know lots of people who, if it’s banned, will just book sex workers underground. But here is my problem: I rely on my care workers to prepare me for the time I spend with my wonderful lady, to give her the money, which they collect from my bank for me, and look after me once she is gone. So they couldn’t help me to get someone ‘underground’ as they tell me that they are forbidden to break the law in the contract they signed with their agency.
I don’t want to move south of the border as I want to stay close to my family, yet I am crying every night at the prospect of having one of my only joys taken away from me. Putting up with Duchenne should be enough for a young man, without this terrible denial of sexual pleasure.
I heard you on Talk Radio speaking about the value of sex work for some people with disabilities, so I know I can trust you to suggest some sensible ideas for me.
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First of all, thank you for getting in touch and for raising this difficult issue. I happen to live in Scotland myself and am well aware of this possibility. However, with the election coming up, no one’s going to be making radical legislative changes imminently, despite the SNP has thrown its weight behind this idea.
I feel passionately that disabled people without partners (who might not even be able to masturbate) should have someone to cuddle then, hold them in their arms and give them sexual pleasure and satisfaction. Without this, people can become depressed and mentally ill.
Many people aren’t aware, but should be, that it is indeed illegal not to support disabled people to enjoy the same pleasures as others enjoy in the privacy of their own homes (Equality Act 2010, Human Rights Act 1998). So, in my opinion, banning the buying of sex is also illegal. I will be campaigning against it all I can.
But if this awful thing does happen, you will be able to find a way to carry on enjoying sessions with your lady. I wonder, Angus, if you might have a friend nearby, or a group of friends, who might help you to use a sex worker?
Another option is that you, your care staff and your wonderful sex worker all meet up in a hotel just south of the border – say in Gretna Green! This would all cost a bit more but, hopefully, you could all squeeze into one vehicle to make it cheaper.
Also, might you be willing to help put on a demonstration in Edinburgh with other disabled people, which I am sure would get in the national press? It could be called ‘Disabled Sex Lives Matter’ a name proposed by a brilliant Outsiders members, Alan Taylor. I would come too, and bring some Outsiders members with me. Anyone wanting to join the demo can contact me at Trust@Outsiders.org.uk or on the TLC-Trust.org.uk website.
But hopefully, none of this will be necessary. Scotland threatens to illegalise sex work every five years or so, and it always gets overturned. So please dry your tears, Angus, and fingers crossed, everything will be OK. Me and the Outsiders team are on the case!
By Tuppy Owens