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Italian bill would fund ‘sex assistants’ for the disabled

If Italy's Senate passes the bill, it would bring the country into line with laws in Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany.
Mon Jul 7, 2014 - 2:52 pm EST
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ROME – Italy’s Senate is considered a bill introduced in April that would mandate the government to offer “sexual assistants” to people with physical, mental or cognitive disabilities.

The bill, which would bring Italy in line with other EU countries, proposes that these “assistants” should be male and female professional “sex workers” who would help their clients gain “erotic, sensual or sexual experience and better address their internal energies” in order to help them “discharge dysfunctional feelings of anger and aggression.”

Disabled Italians will be eligible for government-funded “sex assistants” through the Ministry of Health. They must have reached the age of majority, have completed the “compulsory education” program, signed a code of conduct, and be certified as to their “psycho-sexual suitability” by the local health authority.

The arrangement cannot “be the subject of a contract of employment,” the bill adds, but it “may be subject to cooperative self-employment cooperative.”

The bill’s explanatory note calls for the provision of “suitably trained” persons to help disabled people “to explore their own body through acts of intimacy and masturbation.”

“Many people with disability can not independently maintain interpersonal relationships,” the explanatory note says, “because of a condition of reduced self-sufficiency in terms of mobility or because of a physical [condition] differing from the dominant aesthetic models that are considered attractive."

“In some cases, you add the impossibility of reaching satisfactory self-masturbation practices.” This situation, it adds, “can produce a state of affective and relational marginalization.”

The note cites a 1987 decision by the Constitutional Court that stated, “Sexuality being one of the essential ways of expression of the human person, the right to dispose it freely is undoubtedly an absolute individual right, which must be included among the subject positions directly protected by the Constitution and framed as the inviolable rights of the human person that Article 2 of the Constitution is required to guarantee.”

The bill, brought forward by Sen. Sergio Lo Giudice is being supported by Italian disability group Accordabili, which held a “day of study” in Fasano on June 13 for “industry insiders” on the theme, “The frontier of sexual assistance for the disabled. Issues and reflections.”

Italian supporters are saying that the “poetic” term being adopted for the sex assistants is not prostitute, but the neologism, “accarezzatrice” which roughly translates to a woman who caresses or strokes. At the time the bill was introduced in the Senate, Ansa.it, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair, and many other Italian news outlets started covering the story of a novel promoting the idea, “L’Accarezzatrice” by Giorgia Würth, a Swiss-Italian actress and television presenter.

“Often you compare it to a prostitute. The difference lies in training: courses are of two years with doctors, psychologists and sexologists that make the person able to interface not only with the disabled client, but also with doctors and families,” Würth told the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

Sen. Lo Giudice is one of Italy’s most prominent homosexual activists and a cosponsor of the controverisal “anti-homophobia” bill. He was elected to the Senate last year after serving from 1998 to 2007 as the national president of Arcigay, the country’s leading homosexualist lobby group that has strong ties to the EU-funded ILGA Europe. Lo Giudice remains honourary president.

If the Senate passes the bill, it would bring Italy into line with laws in Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany. The European laws have inspired activists in other countries as well, including Canada, where a wheelchair-bound man in Quebec urged the province to fund ‘sex assistants’ last year.


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