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UK Supreme Court Denies Permission to Pursue Sex to Man Who Does Not Understand Consent

© Sputnik / Chris SummersThe UK Supreme Court
The UK Supreme Court - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.11.2021
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The court ruling may trigger further debates on what sexual consent should mean, especially when it comes to sexual relations that include people who may lack the capacity.
The UK Supreme Court has denied granting permission to pursue sexual relationships to a man who does not have the capacity to understand the concept of consent.
Five Supreme Court judges unanimously ruled on Wednesday that the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the court of protection “do not exist in a vacuum but are part of a wider system of law and justice, and so must take into account the need to protect others”.
The man was named JB in the ruling, with the court prohibiting revealing his identity or address. JB appears to have autism and various physical disabilities. Since he is unable to understand the issue of sexual consent, JB has been classified as potentially posing a "moderate risk" of sexually offending women.
Due to his behaviour towards some females, he has been subject to a care plan under local authorities since 2014, which implies that some of his freedoms are restricted.
According to the court documents, there have been multiple incidents of JB's inappropriate sexual behaviour stemming from his “number one priority” “to get” a woman as a sexual partner, as he himself told Susan Thrift, a consultant clinical psychologist who assessed his condition.
"JB expressed very clearly to Dr Thrift that he does not value the companionship aspects of a sexual relationship. She was of the opinion that JB finds it hard to understand that a potential partner may want this", the court document reads. "Furthermore, JB made repeated comments to Dr Thrift about “becoming less picky” or “fussy” and that he “would have anyone”.
Despite JB's inappropriate sexual behaviour, the court of protection ruled in 2019 that he still has a fundamental right to sex as he was “entitled to make the same mistakes which all human beings can, and do, make in the course of a lifetime”.
According to the 2019 ruling, it would be "discriminatory" to insist that understanding consent was essential to engage in sexual relationships with others, as it would “impose on him a burden which a capacitous individual may not share”.
That ruling did not sit well with the local authority, and it appealed the decision and had the court of appeals siding with it. JB, in his turn, took the case to the Supreme Court, which is the final court of appeal in the United Kingdom.
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