Sex and intimacy are part of what makes us human, but the infinite possibilities that we all experience our sexuality and interpersonal relationships have been completely lost in the government’s approach to the lockdown, and yesterday’s roadmap didn’t end up offering a real one Light the tunnel.
For most of the past year, thousands of single and non-cohabiting couples have been unable to legally meet or spend time together. The support bubble only helps those who are rich enough to live on their own and who are not burdened with other emotional commitments they may want to “blow” themselves with rather than the person they met on Tinder last week.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Matt Hancock said that people who have not yet lived together should just commit and move in together. That advice has completely ignored the wide range of human experiences where contracting is simply not an option.
When embarrassed last year when the Minister of Health stumbled upon a question about the “casual sex ban” from Sky News, he gave a hint as to why this is such a problem in England. Sex, intimacy and human contact are put on the political agenda among garden centers, nail poles and a family visit to the zoo because we are all too embarrassed to talk about them.
Sex is a private matter. Most people don’t want to scream about their sex life or the lack of it. And as Stacey Pritchard, a 36-year-old single mom and wellness entrepreneur put it, “I feel guilty for feeling this way in the current climate, but I worry that I lost a year in the potential Relationships have turned out without even meeting and another year like this could mean missing out on meeting someone special. ”
The way Mr. Hancock speaks about it doesn’t reflect how serious it is for so many people. It’s about your life and your future. Effectively making sex and intimacy illegal for thousands of people over months and years is also a human rights issue.
Mutual adult intimacy is an integral part of our right to private and family life, which is protected by the 1998 Human Rights Act. Human rights courts around the world have repeatedly upheld the right to consensual sex life for adults, regardless of who you are. The right can be restricted, for example to protect the health or rights of others, but any restriction must be proportionate. This means restricting it as little as possible and considering alternatives that would be less harmful to private and family life.
We’re not banning sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections, even with the risk of the gonorrhea superbug that could become resistant to vaccines. We educate people about sexual health and expect them to do their own risk assessment.
Despite initial precautions, other European countries did not impose endless abstinence or coexistence on their populations throughout the pandemic. And their infection rates are in many cases lower than ours.
In the Netherlands, the government recommended finding a regular “sex buddy” to minimize the risk of transmission. The French approach draws a veil over who you are with and what you do as long as you are not out after the curfew and no more than six of you are involved. And the Director General of the Danish Health Authority actively advocated sex as healthy during the pandemic, reportedly saying, “We are all sexual beings, and of course you can have sex in this situation.”
So what could we do differently to enable love and intimacy in the UK during the Covid era? We could add yet another euphemistic exception to the home stay rule to allow for indoor intimacy. There is no longer any need to embarrass poor Mr. Hancock – someone else could design it. It might be limited to one to one if we don’t want to be too French.
It is a particularly British form of cruelty to say that people can have a cleaner in their homes but not a lover. The roadmap should govern the way we interact in groups to limit the spread of the virus. But at a time when we all need love and human contact, we need to allow people to make their own personal choices about who to touch in private. It’s only human.