Ishmael and his partner Eve had decided that they would like to get married. However, Ishmael was a long-term patient at a mental health hospital, and his consultant was not sure whether the marriage should be allowed as Ishmael’s mental health issues may have impacted his decision-making.

Staff at the hospital had been part of a wide-scale human rights programme in the service, which BIHR had delivered. Instead of jumping to conclusions about what was best for Ishmael based on his mental health issues, the consultant and care team decided to approach the issue by reflecting on how his human rights might be affected by their decision. They recognised that not allowing to Ishmael to get married might have a negative impact on his right to respect for private and family life (Article 8) and his right to marry and found a family (Article 12), and that under the Human Rights Act staff have a duty to respect and protect Ishmael’s human rights. Making sure they were considering Ishmael’s human rights, staff felt better equipped to move away from a model of decision-making that focused solely on risk and harm avoidance, towards a model that included potential for the people in their care to lead full and flourishing lives. Staff decided to take every step that they could in supporting Ishmael and Eve to marry.