Here is a letter that I will be sending to my local MP today.
Dear Mr Campbell,
I am writing to you with regard to the issue of the recognition of asexuality as a sexual orientation within the protective laws of the United Kingdom. Since I identify myself as being asexual, I am concerned that current plans that aim to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do not appear to extend naturally to asexual people.
Although you may well be aware of what asexuality is — that being the lack of sexual attraction to others — you may not be aware of the issues that affect asexuals and why such promotion and protection is needed.
Even the terms “asexual” and “asexuality” are not readily understood by the public at large. There have been news articles in the media, notably from the BBC News website, that have presented the idea of asexuality. However, beyond these examples, it is difficult to name any celebrities or characters that portray asexuality as role models.
As an aside, Sherlock Holmes has been touted as a possible asexual character. In Conan Doyle’s books and the recent television series there has been no pretext to Holmes’s sexuality. However, there have been plenty of assertions that Holmes may have been sexually attracted to Dr. Watson as a consequence of his sexuality not being known. This serves as an example as to how alien the notion of someone lacking sexual attraction is to the general public.
A past study has suggested that 1% of the population are asexual, and various commentators have suggested that it could be significantly more. The issues of awareness and promotion are stark: not only do asexuals face constant questions about what it means to be asexual, but the lack of information causes a prolonged and painful search for one’s identity. Some asexuals experience depression since they struggle to understand the differences they experience from the majority. Although I realise that I have been asexual all my life, I was not able to understand this until the publication of the aforementioned BBC News articles when I was 27.
With regard to protection, there are many areas of law that are not prepared for the protection of asexual people. One such example is the issue of divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. It is my understanding that the lack of a sexual relationship is sufficient grounds to file a petition for divorce. Therefore, regardless of any understanding reached prior to marriage, a married asexual is susceptible to the threat of a petition from their partner.
It is also clear that, currently, the Equality Act 2010 does not protect asexuals. The Act states in Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 12 the definition of a sexual orientation to be:
“a person’s sexual orientation towards—
a. persons of the same sex,
b. persons of the opposite sex, or
c. persons of either sex.”
This suggests that the Equality Act 2010 does not apply to asexuals at all.
The lack of consideration for asexuality in the definition of sexual orientation extends to other areas of law, such as asylum. It has been reported that asexuals are subject to “corrective rape”, psychological assessments and corrective psychotherapies.
As my local member of parliament, I would be grateful if you could act as my representative to parliament and pass on my concerns. I hope you can understand my concerns and, to that end, I would be happy to address any queries you may have with regard to asexuality and the problems asexuals face.