Supported by

Atlantic Documentaries

The Right to Sexuality

Jun 14, 2019 | 103 videos
Video by The Atlantic

Paul and Hava met at a performing-arts social event for people with intellectual disabilities. With the assistance of their parents, they went on a few successful dates. The connection was immediate. After some time, they decided to make their strong, loving bond official. The couple made each other so happy that their parents saw no good reason to deny the proposal.

The group homes where Paul and Hava lived, however, stood in the way of the couple’s union. “They want us not to get married—not to live together,” says Paul in a new short documentary. Prohibited from cohabiting, Paul and Hava struggled to maintain their marriage while living apart. They decided to file a lawsuit against their respective group homes.

In the film, Consuelo Senior, a sex educator at the YAI National Institute for People With Disabilities, says group homes are hesitant to address the issue of sexuality because of the liability associated with matters of consent. New York, where Paul and Hava live, has one of the most restrictive and conservative legal standards for sexual-consent capacity. These standards have been developed, refined, and codified through court decisions; there is no consensus among professionals.

Can Paul and Hava legally prove they can consent to their sexual relationship, thereby earning the right to live together?

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Author: Violet Wang

About This Series

Original short documentaries produced by The Atlantic