I have been happily married for 17 years, I have three children and I also have a learning disability. OkCupid want their users to say if the world would be a better place if my family didn't exist. I don't think that's right.
Since May last year Mencap and people with a learning disability have been asking dating website OkCupid to take down a question on their website: 'Would the world be a better place if people with low IQs were not allowed to reproduce?'
When I first saw the question I was shocked and I wondered if OkCupid would say that to my wife or to my children - would the world be a better place without them? Of course not. Even when they are causing trouble my children have as much right to life as anyone else, in the same way as I have the same right to have children as everyone else.
So I was pleased to hear that OkCupid's CEO spoke to a journalist saying they would remove this question. But I am not at all happy with their response. They have not apologised and I do not feel they understand why this question was so offensive to people with a learning disability. Their response felt like they had been caught out and didn't really want to understand why so many people with a learning disability were deeply hurt that a popular website would ask this question.
To ask if people with low IQs, which may include people with learning disabilites, shouldn't have the right to have children is very unfair. There are a lot of stories about people who don't have a learning disability and have children and find out it's not something they can handle. It's unfair to judge anybody's ability to be a parent based on a disability. I am not any less of a dad because of my learning disability.
OKCupid have now decided to take the question down but it took almost a year since we started campaigning and they have made no effort to speak to people with a learning disability to understand why there is such outrage.
Mencap and the people with a learning disability they supported did not stop fighting. You can see from this video how offended people were when they saw the question.
Everyone has the right to love, but only 3% of adults with a learning disability live with their partner, compared to 70% of the rest of the country. This is of course very upsetting and there are lots of reasons for this and some people with a learning disability may need more support in places to be a parent, but we shouldn't add to the view that people like me shouldn't have children.
I love my wife and children. They are the best thing in my life and it makes me sad that companies like OkCupid are pushing people with a learning disability away and making it even harder for them to find love.
I want to know why OkCupid thought this was ok, but so far we have no real answers. OkCupid have come out and publically defended the question, but they haven't answered the questions and concerns of people with a learning disability. I think this is worrying. I think a large company should welcome people from all backgrounds. Removing the question is a positive start, but understanding why they had to do this is more important.
People with a learning disability face discrimination in so many areas of their lives. We should never add to the view that we do not have the same basic rights as anyone else. SoI am proud to be able to celebrate with my wife and kids that we didn't give up and managed to get this question taken down.
I would now like to invite OkCupid to come and sit down and talk to us and work with us to help make their dating website open to everyone, accessible and inclusive to all people - because everyone deserves the right to find love.