Woman turned down by dating site as clients 'don't date people in wheelchairs'

By Britta Zeltmann

A DISABLED journalist was left in tears after a dating site turned her away for being in a wheelchair.

Lucy Webster, who works for the BBC, was told by Matchmakers Dating that singles "are not always open" to dating someone with her disability.

Lucy Webster was turned away from a dating site because she was in a wheelchair
Lucy Webster was turned away from a dating site because she was in a wheelchairCredit: Twitter
The BBC journalist later tweeted about her treatment
The BBC journalist later tweeted about her treatmentCredit: Twitter

The dating site sent Lucy an email in which they said they were "not a specialist agency" and their "experience of disabled dating is limited".

Their letter read: "We have found that achieving good outcomes for full-time wheelchair user clients can be quite challenging.

"You should consider this before looking to take out a membership with us."

They added: "As we get more enquiries from the disabled, we are considering developing a specialised brand for the disabled dater."

Lucy, who works for the BBC's politics team, later shared the email on Twitter, saying it had reduced her to tears.

Next time a disabled person tries to talk to you about ableism, please remember that it's not just frustrating things like a lack of ramps. It's stuff like this, that hurts more than I can say.

Lucy Webster

She wrote: "I just received this email from a 'professional' dating service.

"I have been crying for an hour.

"When I spoke to them on the phone they said that my disability was fine, but when I clarified that I was a wheelchair user, this."

Lucy said she wasn't sure whether to share the email or not, but she thought it needed to be said.

The BBC Politics journalist explained: "Imagine for a second being told that you are too disabled for a non-disabled person to love.

"Next time a disabled person tries to talk to you about ableism, please remember that it's not just frustrating things like a lack of ramps. It's stuff like this, that hurts more than I can say."

Users on Twitter were quick to show Lucy their support with one person commenting: "Are they trying to say disabled people can only date other disabled people??? How f***ing stupid is that??"

Another wrote: "Surely the best person to decide if they want to date a person with a disability, is the potential date?"

British Paralympic swimmer Tully Kearney added: "Wrong on so many levels but the repeated use of ‘the disabled’ unforgivably offensive."

Matchmakers Dating say they did not turn Lucy away and believe "everyone is entitled to date and find love".

A spokesperson for the company told The Sun Online: "We have current members living with various disabilities, including others using a wheelchair.

"Sadly, there is still quite a lot of prejudice out there in society at large and because of this we have not always been successful in finding others open to dating people with disabilities, despite our best efforts - others make their own decisions. 

"We offer all our clients matches with reference to the preferences that they tell us they have in a partner and it is then for the client to decide if they want to go ahead.  

"We deeply regret any offence that we may have caused in trying to be open and honest about the challenges before potentially taking a significant fee and would have welcomed Lucy as a member if she had wished to proceed with a membership."

Matchmakers Dating told Lucy they did not 'specialise' in 'disabled dating'
Matchmakers Dating told Lucy they did not 'specialise' in 'disabled dating'Credit: Twitter
They said they may introduce a membership for people with disabilities only
They said they may introduce a membership for people with disabilities onlyCredit: Twitter
Holly Willoughby's surprise as This Morning caller reveals she's 18 weeks pregnant and engaged to stranger she met on dating app in August