This study empirically investigates how courts define sexuality of disabled persons in the absence of a formal right to sexuality. The focus of the study is tort law, a field ungoverned by direct disability rights legislation, assuming that tort law is the law of disablement as it concerns the transformative process of becoming disabled. The study investigates the types of damages courts have awarded for harm to sexual functioning, inquiring to whom and under what conditions have they been awarded. Additionally, it examines the discourse that characterizes each type of damages, and the legal, social, medical, and healthcare policy developments that have affected courts' rhetoric and reasoning. Our findings reveal shifting trends in scale, content, and inclusiveness of beneficiaries in terms of gender and age. Over time, courts have adopted a more hopeful and dynamic approach to disabled persons' sexuality while remaining within an individual-medical framework. We suggest that these shifting trends can be linked to the slow diffusion of the social-affirmative approach to disability, the limits of tort law as a field, and the role of healthcare policy in shaping the landscape of tort claims.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2019 Law and Society Association
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science