Stop denying people with learning disabilities their right to family life, government told

People with learning disabilities are routinely denied the right to family life, the Joint Committee on Human Rights has heard.

In evidence to the committee of MPs and peers yesterday, Andrew Lee, director of People First (Self-Advocacy) said couples with learning disabilities were too often denied the chance to prove they are capable of successfully raising a family.

“Some people want to stop us breeding in line with eugenics. They don’t see us as adults so they think we are not capable of a relationship or looking after children.”

He claimed that some people with learning difficulties were persuaded to undergo sterilisation which often had a knock-on effect later in life.

“One of the factors in the breakdown of my first marriage was the fact that we couldn’t have the children we so desperately wanted.”

He added that society needed to realise that people with learning disabilities were adults and had the rights of adults.

“At the moment people with learning difficulties are assumed to be bad parents unless they can prove otherwise…There are many bad parents who don’t have a learning difficulty but it is us who are under suspicion. “

Lee told the Committee that what was needed was better support for parents with learning difficulties, starting before the baby was born.

And he said that professionals, especially doctors, should do more to ensure that information and advice for new parents was given in an easily understandable way.

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