The commission is an independent and highly distinguished body, set up in 1975 to examine areas of the law that need to be reformed.
It has published nearly 200 reports that have led to all sorts of changes.
The talk she gave then resonated with the commission — so much so that when it completed its latest report, and readied it for publication last week, it asked Frieda to launch it.
When she was launching the report, Frieda said: “At the very beginning of this report, the commission talks about how language has evolved.
“I can’t read it without thinking about all the labels that have been applied over the years — many of them in my lifetime: Lunatic, idiot, imbecile, feeble-minded, mongoloid, spastic, retarded, mentally handicapped.
Back in 1990, it published a report on Sexual Offences Against the Mentally Handicapped.
In that report, it said the law must “respect the rights of the mentally handicapped to sexual fulfilment and should not pose unnecessary obstacles to intimate relationships, which find sexual expression, where one of the partners is mentally disabled”. When Frieda spoke to the Law Reform Commission, it was planning to revisit the subject, because no change had happened.
I don’t think my wife would claim that, so I will on her behalf.
A couple of years ago, she spoke passionately about this to the Law Reform Commission, when it was starting to look in detail at the issue.
A label doesn’t have needs, and a label doesn’t have to have rights, after all.” SHE suggested that the law is worded as it is because “it simply never occurred to the lawmakers that people with an intellectual disability would, or could, have the same feelings as the rest of us.
“For some reason, they made an equation between intellectual capacity and emotional development.” But isn’t it the case, Frieda concluded, that “the right to love and be loved is a basic human right?
“And it reminds me, too, of all the techniques that have been used down through the years.
“The commission’s report traces a history that includes dreadful concepts like eugenics, but other trends have come and gone — institutionalisation, incarceration, normalisation, integration.
So why, for one group of people and for them alone, is there a law against it?