Stephen Marcus, Valerie Egan, Patrick Becker and Amy Joyce Hastings

The Audi Dublin International Film Festival brought one of the most original, freshest and funny Irish romantic comedies of recent years to the Light House Cinema as part of the main festival last week.

Len Collin’s Sanctuary is a big screen adaptation of a hit play from Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Performing Arts School & Outreach programme for people with intellectual disabilities at the forefront of arts and disability in Ireland. The film premiered at the Galway Film Fleadh in 2016 where it won the Best First Irish Feature Award.

Larry and Sophie are in love. They bribe the feckless Tom to book them into a hotel for an afternoon tryst and look forward to getting to know each other, like countless couples before them. But Larry and Sophie aren’t any couple; they both have intellectual disabilities and Tom is their care worker. By attempting to be intimate, they aren’t just breaking the rules – they’re breaking the law.

Commenting on the shifting legal situation Inclusion Ireland Campaigns and Policy Lead Sarah Lennon said: “The current criminal law (1993 Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act has created an uncertain legal landscape for people with intellectual disabilities who wish to have intimate relationships.

“The law can appear to criminalise even consensual relationship, while offering little protection and has created a ‘chilling effect’ on people with disabilities accessing information, education and support.

“Law reform in the guise of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 is expected in the next week and will create improved legal certainty about who can and cannot have intimate, sexual relationships.

“Even with the lifting of a legal threat, there remains a lot of work to be done to remove the taboo surrounding sexuality and disability.”

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