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Belgium moves to enshrine rights for disabled people in constitution

Picture shows a Disabled persons parking space marked on the ground in the streets of Brussels (BELGA PHOTO JONAS HAMERS)
09:49 13/01/2021

The Chamber of Representatives of the Belgian parliament will soon consider a proposal that enshrines the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities in the country’s constitution, it was announced on Tuesday.

The bill already received the necessary support in the Senate in July of last year, and by the end of this month, the proposal will return to the house committee.

The proposal, presented by Gitta Vanpeborgh of the Flemish Social Democrats, aims to introduce Article 22 in the Constitution which guarantees the right of people with disabilities to full integration into society.

The text received unanimous support from the Senate, with the exception of the abstentions of the conservative N-VA party and right-wing Vlaams Belang which abstained. A two-thirds majority is still required in the house.

Belgium ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009. However, a survey of 1,144 people with disabilities conducted by Unia showed that their living situation had not improved over the past six years.

60% of them said that their disability was an obstacle to a decent standard of living. A similar proportion felt that the way others see them prevented them from living the life they wanted.

Written by Nick Amies