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Sanctuary- A Review

January 9, 2018

Irish movie Sanctuary is the story of a group of learning disabled people from a day centre.

Close to Christmas, the group are taken on a trip to the cinema by their care worker, Tom (Robert Doherty).

Tom has arranged for two members of the group, Sophie (Charlene Kelly) and Larry (Kieran Coppinger) to sneak out and spend some time alone together in a hotel room. There, he learns that they plan to have sex. However, it is illegal for unmarried learning disabled people to have sex in Ireland. There is a good reason for this law, and this reason is explored in some detail in the film.

Sanctuary raises some very interesting questions about love, sex and disability, as well as safety and responsibility.

What makes someone a good carer for people with disabilities? Is it taking responsibility for them and enforcing rules, or standing up for their human rights and treating them like human beings?

Can learning disabled people really feel and understand love? Can they really understand what it means to consent to sex? Sanctuary shows us that when they feel safe, the answer to both questions is a loud, clear yes.

What is responsibility and what makes someone responsible?

Is it really important to stay safe and keep the rules? Or is it more important to leave your sanctuary and have an adventure?

With moments of humour and an upbeat, yet romantic soundtrack, this is a film that has something for everyone.

The questions and themes it raises are handled with a rare sensitivity to disability that I, as a person physically disabled since birth, was very pleased to see. The hopeless romantic in me loved its romance, too.

I recommend it highly.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alan Phillips permalink
    January 10, 2018 11:58 am

    Looking forward to seeing the film.
    It’s about time this sensitive area of disabled life was exposed and discussed openly. So many parents want to see their children as babies and or youngsters whatever their mental capacity /capabilities
    Discussing this after such a film zcan only benefit the situation.
    I have worked in mental health, and I within the Scope setup and have Ben an advocate for people with all types of disabilities and including the learning difficulties.

  2. January 12, 2018 6:11 am

    UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Articles

    Article 23 – Respect for home and the family –

    “1. States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others, so as to ensure that:

    a) The right of all persons with disabilities who are of marriageable age to marry and to found a family on the basis of free and full consent of the intending spouses is recognized;

    b) The rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided;

    c) Persons with disabilities, including children, retain their fertility on an equal basis with others.”

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