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Why our Human Rights Act Learning Disability England

This blog was originally posted on Learning Disability England and has been reposted here with kind permission.

Please note, this is a guest blog and views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of BIHR.

Blog from Gary Bourlet

Membership and Engagement Lead at Learning Disability England

As you may know, the government wants to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.

This has raised some concerns for me and our members about how our human rights will be affected if this happens.

The Human Rights Act 1998 was passed with cross-party support by parliament; it does not belong to any one particular political party. 

Our Human Rights Act takes 16 of the human rights in the European Convention on Human Rights and pulls them down into our law here at home.

It’s so important that we safeguard our human rights, and nothing is left out.

We already had The Disability Discrimination Act disappear in 2010.

I am very concerned about people with learning disabilities and autistic people’s rights being watered down further with the introduction of The Bill of Rights.

The Human Rights Act has played such an important part in determining people’s futures.

I fear without it, we run the risk of returning to the past with people being isolated, institutionalised and even abused.

The Human Rights Act is so important if people are to lead Good Lives as people rely on it every single day.  

Good Lives: Building Change Together is really grounded in human rights.

There needs to be co-production with people with learning disabilities, autistic people, their families, friends and providers to stop this happening and make a louder voice together!

One way we can do this is by writing to our MPs and telling them why our Human Rights Act is so important and urging them to protect it.

The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) has made a form you can fill in and send to your MP.

Learning Disability England and our members worked closely with the BIHR to make sure the government heard from people with learning disabilities in the Human Rights Act Consultation.

Read more about that here.

I would also like to see roundtable talks happening so that learning-disabled people can have their say about how they feel about this.

Nothing about us without us.

Remember, we need to raise our voices, join together and make this issue more of a priority.

I don’t want to see people with learning disabilities get pushed aside. 

Kumudu Perera, self-advocate member representative spoke to me about one of the reasons why The Human Rights Act is so needed:

“We need to protect the Human Rights Act otherwise people will be able to abuse people with all kinds of prejudices like disabilities. Anti-social behavior like this will likely get out of control and become a lot worse than it already is.”

I also spoke to Jack Marshal, self-advocate member representative about the effect this might have and what we can do to stop it:

The Human Rights Act is one of the foundations for support of disability rights. It’s a legal framework that protects people from being discriminated against and makes sure people are equal.

I think it’s absolutely disgusting that our rights are being exposed to this, we don’t know what will happen and what effect this will have on our rights as disabled people.

I encourage everybody, disabled and non-disabled to write to their MPs to express their dissatisfaction with this and arrange meetings with their MPs when they are with their constituents. Tell them why it’s important this bill should be reversed and that we should be given the same protection as the original bill.

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