Written by Shaz Majid
Research Assistant, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Nottingham
Sexuality, sexual relationships and sexual functioning are important quality-of-life issues for patients with mental disorders (Assalian, P., Fraser, R., Tempier, R., & Cohen, D., 2000; Dobal & Torkelson 2004). Although sexual interaction is not a specifically protected right, a person’s right to consensual sexual activity, including those persons involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA), is implicitly inferred through Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) which upholds one’s right to privacy, personal dignity, autonomy and social interaction. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) further supports sexual freedom of mental health patients. Article 12 of ICESCR establishes the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the right to control one’s health and body, including sexual and reproductive freedom.