Monday, 13 June 2016

10 Million Reasons to Vote #REMAIN

I didn't spend 25 years working for disabled people's rights to throw it all away now. That's why I'm voting to REMAIN. Julie Howell

My friend and fellow disability rights campaigner Mik Scarlet once said, "To be a disabled person is a political act."

How I wish it were not so.

But I have to agree. Rights that everyone else can take for granted are often given to disabled people begrudgingly, if at all.

As a nation, we're still some way off understanding why rights that protect disabled people in terms of access to products and services, education and employment, leisure and travel, democracy and independence are so important. However, behind the scenes, many disabled people and our allies have been working tirelessly to ensure that legislation is put in place at European level to give us the best chance of contributing to the societies we live in and of living fulfilling lives.

It is so important that we continue to have strong disability rights legislation across Europe to protect the human rights of people who are sick, have long term conditions and who are temporarily or permanently disabled.

Over the past 25 years, I've been personally involved in campaigning and policy work to ensure that disabled people are not the social pariahs that we were in the 19th century, when the only way to eat was through begging and when, if we lived long enough to be old, we were forced to see out our days in the poorhouse as there was no other option (with no NHS, welfare state or employment legislation to protect us, our families simply couldn't afford to support us if we couldn't support ourselves).

Unless we keep our eye on it, disabled people living now and in the near future are at risk of suffering the same level of discrimination and poverty as disabled people did 150 years ago.

The rights that disabled people enjoy now are still some way off true equality. Disability hate crime is on the rise, and government policies such as the 'bedroom tax' have ensured that many sick and disabled people live in terrible stress and poverty (as if being ill wasn't stressful enough). Despite this, the rights disabled people enjoy today are so much more than the rights we had before the UK was a member of the EU. To throw away decades of effort that has seen the rights of disabled people improve - one piece of EU legislation at a time - by leaving the EU is unthinkable.

There are 10million disabled people in the UK* who need and deserve the protection that EU legislation has been created to provide. (*source: Disabled Living Foundation)

This is why I am voting for Britain to #Remain in the EU and I urge you to do the same.

Further reading:

EU legislation on tackling disability discrimination
Green Party Disability Policy
Life costs more if you are disabled - Scope
The extra costs of disability. Why it's time to be bold - Robin Hindle Fisher, Extra Costs Commission

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