Earlier this month, Portugal’s disability sport magazine Plural&Singular published a special report on sex and affection issues among the disability community in the country. This report was a supplement to another report published a few years earlier, and answer additional questions around people with disabilities, their attitudes towards sex, and their sexual practices. It also is intended to serve as an informational guide for people who work with people with disabilities, and assist in making conversations about sex in schools more inclusive.
While primarily factual and clinical in nature, the report also includes several testimonials from people with disabilities. These testimonials reference the fact that people with disabilities do want both sex and affection. Still, there are hangups in Portuguese culture that can make it difficult still in this day and age to discuss sex. Having a disability only further complicates the issue of discussing sex.
The report also reviewed some recent thesis on the topic of people with disabilities and issues related to sex. One thesis reviewed was “Attitudes and beliefs about sexuality in people with intellectual disabilities – A comparative study of families and professionals using the Q-Sorting Methodology” (Portuguese: Atitudes e Crenças sobre a Sexualidade na Pessoa com Deficiência Mental – Um Estudo Comparativo de Familiares e Profissionais usando a Metodologia Q-Sorting) by Ana Sofia Ribeiro Silva da Gama at the Universidade do Porto. It found that people with intellectual disabilities more or less have awareness of and desires similar to other people in regards to sex and reproduction. In Portugal, despite a desire for clarification on the rights of people with intellectual disabilities in regards to sex, the law is ambiguous and actual rights are not easily understood. It also found that families of people with intellectual disabilities hold different beliefs and attitudes about sex for people with intellectual disabilities than professionals who worked with them.
Associação para o Planeamento da Família, “Sim, Nós Fodemos”, Associação do Porto de Paralisia Cerebral, and FederaçãoNacional de Cooperativas de Solidariedade Social all contributed to this report. Clinical psychologist Jorge Cardoso was the primary author of the report.