Learning disability charity Mencap is calling for dating website OkCupid to remove a deeply offensive question and apologise to people with a learning disability for the offence caused.
As part of its screening process, OkCupid asks users “would the world be a better place if people with a low IQs were not allowed to reproduce?” This question is offensive towards people with a learning disability and others. Many people with a learning disability can and want to lead a life like anyone else including having a family, but face barriers including negative public attitudes.
Amy Clarke, a Mencap spokesperson, who has a learning disability, said: “I am very upset that OkCupid could ask a question about whether people with a learning disability should be allowed to have children. This is not ok. It is shocking and offensive. As by asking the question, they are making it seem like it is ok to say yes which it is not. If they had asked the same question about people of different races or sexuality there would be outrage and it should be the same for people with a learning disability.
“I am not sure if I want to have children, but I do want to find someone to settle down with. I am single and I know dating can be difficult, so it does not help when dating websites ask offensive questions. It makes me worried to use them. I think OkCupid should apologise immediately for this and remove it from their website. ”
Ciara Lawrence, a Mencap campaigner who also has a learning disability, has started an online petition against OkCupid’s question at: www.change.org/p/mike-maxim-tell-okcupid-that-discrimination-is-not-ok-notokcupid.
“As someone with a learning disability who is married and thinking about maybe having children in the future I find this question inappropriate, offensive and discriminatory,” she said. “It should not matter who you are when you have children just that you will love them and do everything you can to raise them in the right way.
“Since I was diagnosed with a learning disability when I was 10 I’ve been told: 'you will never', 'you can’t', 'you won’t'. All negative attitudes. It was hard for me to imagine then that I would ever achieve anything I dreamed of in my life. However, now I am married, have a great job working at Mencap, and live an independent and happy life. I am very lucky that I have the right support around me. However, I know how important it is for people with a learning disability to have positive role models in their life, and be encouraged to fulfil our dreams.
“I think what OkCupid should immediately remove the question and apologise for any offence it has caused.”
In response, and OkCupid spokesperson: “Our question system is designed to help potential matches understand the interests and values of other users. Questions range from mundane to provocative and they specifically allow you to determine your potential compatibility with someone else and to avoid people whose viewpoints you strongly disagree with.”