UN Human Rights Day Friday 10th December 2021
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Carol Le Page, Social Policy Director from the Guernsey Disability Alliance said “The GDA is pleased to be celebrating Human Rights Day on the 10th December. The 2021 Theme is EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights. Equality is linked to non-discrimination and both are at the heart of Human Rights.”
In November this year the States agreed to detailed proposals to include the grounds of sexual orientation and religious belief if the first phase of the discrimination ordinance.
The States of Guernsey in agreeing to include these two grounds means that an additional 5 grounds will have protection from discrimination when the first phase of the legislation comes back to the States, provided the States agree with their previous decisions.
The first phase of the discrimination ordinance is due to be considered by the States in 2022 and will provide protection from discrimination in the areas of goods, services, education and employment for the grounds of:
- carer status
- sexual orientation, and
- religious belief.
Carol Le Page explained “There were questions raised in the November States meeting about why we need discrimination legislation if we already have the Human Rights Law? The answer is that the Human Rights Law only provides protection from discrimination by any public authority but not by individuals, groups, charities, clubs, private schools, employers, businesses etc. The new discrimination legislation will provide protection against discrimination wider than just the civic arena and will include social, cultural, educational and commercial activities, so all areas of life can be protected against discrimination.
The GDA is proud to be at the forefront of the campaign for these protections particularly for anyone affected by disability which includes carers as well as anyone with an impairment. We very much take a human rights view where inclusion, non-discrimination and equality are key.
The human rights based approach looks at disability as an interaction between an individuals personal condition, such as physical or visual impairment, and environmental factors, such as negative attitudes or inaccessible buildings. These factors combine to determine the extent to which an individual participates in society and, as a result, the extent to which disability affects their human rights.
This is a different approach to the charity model where disabled people are seen as passive objects of kind acts or pity and no environmental conditions are considered. It is also different to the medical model where the focus is very much on the persons impairment where individuals should be “fixed” through medicine or rehabilitation. In contrast the Human Rights approach builds on the social model of disability and acknowledges disabled persons as subjects of rights and the State and others as having duties to respect, protect and fulfil these rights. It treats the barriers in society as discriminatory and provides avenues for persons with disabilities to have their rights upheld and addressed through a proper mechanism. A human rights based approach to disability is not driven by pity but by dignity and freedom.”
For interview contact Carol Le Page Social Policy Director
The Guernsey Disability Alliance campaigns for greater respect for the rights and dignity of disabled islanders and carers. We influence policy and practical change in a manner consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
A public authority in the Human Rights Law is:
- States departments or Committees
- Parish bodies
- The police
- Courts and tribunals
- Any person or organisation that carries out some functions of a public nature
The States Assembly is not classed as a public authority.
The “medical model” describes a power relationship between society and persons with impairments and should not be confused with the right of all people, including disabled persons, to the human right to health.
For more information from the United Nations on Human Rights Day click on the button below: