‘Ridiculous’ relationships question will not be removed from disability survey, Government says

The question, part of a survey for the UK Government’s National Strategy for Disabled People, asks respondents if they would agree or disagree that they “would be happy to have a physical relationship with a disabled person”.

Disabled people expressed their anger at the question on Twitter, after the BBC News presenter Victoria Derbyshire shared the wording on the social media platform on Monday.

Responding to Derbyshire’s tweet, Dr Frances Ryan, a columnist and journalist for The Guardian, described the question as “weird”.

“Disabled people don’t need the government involved in our sex lives, cheers! The real question: would you be happy to have a physical relationship with a Tory.”

Mik Scarlet, a broadcaster and wheelchair user, added that it was a “ridiculous question”.

“Relationships are not about an abstract. You meet a person and are attracted to them. Just reinforces otherness. Not sure what government policy this might impact too,” he said.

Meanwhile, broadcaster and disability campaigner Samantha Renke commented: “Another ‘othering’ too to continue the marginalisation of disabled people. Love is love and shouldn’t be qualified by my disability.

“Honestly I do often feel like I’m made out to be another species.”

Philippa Vincent-Connolly, a historian and author who has cerebral palsy, tweeted: “I was in tears over this question after I had seen it yesterday. Does no one think this might lead to further mental health problems of disabled people when grouped together like this, and people are questioned about our existence in such an inappropriate and insensitive way?”

However, in a statement to Liam O’Dell, a Government spokesperson said the question would not be removed from the survey.

“We have already received over 14,500 insightful and informative responses to the UK Disability Survey, with each answer helping to shape the National Strategy for Disabled People.

“The question on relationships will not be removed and as with all questions within the survey, was developed to ensure that we gather as wide a range of direct insight and lived experience from disabled people, carers and the general public as possible,” they said.

People interested in responding the UK Disability Survey can do so online until 23 April, with submissions now informing the delivery of the Government’s strategy.

Photo: Government Equalities Office.

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