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Recession is no excuse for discrimination against disabled people, says MEP

December 3, 2009 2:26 AM
Originally published by Liz Lynne

Local LibDem MEP Liz Lynne has called for more action by the EU and member states to ensure people with disabilities are treated with dignity and respect, especially during the recession.

Liz, a long time campaigner on the issue, spoke out to mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday December 3rd.

The day aims to promote a better understanding of the issues affecting people with disabilities and to mobilise support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

Liz Lynne said: "Achieving a legally binding UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was a huge milestone, but it is no use if countries do not sign and ratify it. I am pleased that the European Community has last week agreed to start the process of ratifying this agreement.

"We must now keep up the pressure on individual countries to ratify the convention too and adopt the binding commitments it contains if we are to deliver the equality that disabled people deserve."

Liz Lynne warned that the recession is likely to have a disproportionate impact on the job prospects of people with disabilities, and also for older people, who were at growing risk of losing their jobs in waves of redundancies as well as having increased difficulty in finding new work.

Liz added: "Employment is one of the most important ways that people can achieve economic independence. Yet even before this recession, employment rates for disabled people were much lower than the rate for non-disabled people. This situation is likely to be getting worse. Finding a job is hard enough without having to deal with the discrimination that so many disabled people have to face."

Liz Lynne also commented on the need to ensure that disabled people were given the chance to be independent:

"Many of the over 60 million disabled people across Europe strive to live more independent lives but are not offered the support necessary to do so. Disabled people of all ages and backgrounds must be empowered to take control of their own lives, live with dignity and participate fully as equal citizens."

In 2003 Liz Lynne, who is the Vice President of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, drafted the report for European Parliament on the UN Convention for Disabled Peoples Rights.

Since then she has been working to encourage the Commission to press ahead with an EU-wide directive that will ban discrimination against disabled people in regard to goods and services. This will mean that no matter where a disabled person goes in the EU they can expect the same right to be treated equally.