A British judge sparked criticism after he spoke in court about the “fundamental human right” of a man to have sex with his wife. Justice Hayden made the remark after being asked to consider imposing a court order preventing a man from having sex with his wife of 20 years, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The woman suffered learning difficulties and was beginning to deteriorate, prompting social services to take the case to the Court of Protection, which considers cases where people lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions.
Social service officials believed there was evidence that the woman was no longer able to make decisions about whether or not she wanted to have sex and therefore could not give consent.
Lawyers suggested that a court order barring the husband from having sex with his wife might be needed to prevent her from being raped.
Justice Hayden had been told that the husband offered to give an undertaking not to have sex with his wife, The Independent reported.
But the judge said he wanted to examine the evidence in more detail, adding that the man could face prison if he breached an order on sexual consent.
“I cannot think of any more obviously fundamental human right than the right of a man to have sex with his wife … I think he is entitled to have it properly argued,” he was quoted as saying.
Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire on Tuesday said that Justice Hayden’s remarks “legitimizes misogyny and woman-hatred”.
“No man in the UK has such a legal right to insist on sex. No consent = rape,” she said on Twitter.
Citing the Sexual Offences Act 2003, she added that the lack of capacity to give consent means that no consent can be given.
“This judge is giving out a dangerous set of messages in his pronouncements,” she said.
Labour MP Jess Phillips also criticized Justice Hayden’s remarks: “It is not a basic human right to have sex with your wife. It is not even close to a right.”