The wider equality agenda
There are a number of key pieces of legislation which aim to promote equality and human rights for disabled people:
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 made it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people in employment, in the provision of goods, facilities and services or education or transport. It made provision for the employment of disabled people and established a National Disability Council. It also introduced reasonable adjustments requiring employers and service providers to take steps to remove barriers to disabled people's participation in society.
The Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force in 2000 and certain core human rights and freedoms that are included in the European Convention on Human Rights became part of UK domestic law.
This has made it possible for human rights cases to be dealt with in a UK court or tribunal and means that all new legislation must reflect the Convention rights wherever possible.
Equality Act 2010
After the DDA 1995, the Equality Act 2010 was introduced in law to protect people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society. It replaced previous anti-discrimination laws, helping to make the law clearer and easier to understand, along with strengthening protection in some cases. It also enabled Scottish Minister's to place specific duties on public authorities. By April 2013, listed authorities were required to publish equality outcomes and a mainstreaming report showing how the organisation integrates equality into its everyday business, including information on the recruitment, retention and development of staff. Authorities with at least 150 employees are also required to report on gender pay gap information and equal pay statements. Initial reports applied only to men and women but these will extend to disability and racial equality by April 2017.
Included within Act is the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). It requires public authorities to have due regard to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity, and foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Disability is a relevant characteristic.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)
The UNCRC is an international treaty that sets out the rights that all children and young people have and it places human rights in a context that is meaningful for children. Children and young people require special attention in respect of their rights because of their vulnerabilities, their evolving capacity as they grow and their reliance on adults to give effect to their rights. Article 23 of the UNCRC states that is a disabled child has the rights to enjoy a full and decent life in conditions that ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community. Under part 1 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 Scottish Ministers have a duty to comply with the UNCRC.
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Perhaps the most important of all has been the UNCRPD, signed by UK Government in 2007. It recognises that disabled people have the same rights as everyone else to freedom, respect, equality and dignity.
It also supports the social model of disability, viewing discriminatory attitudes, inaccessible environments and lack of accessible communication and support as the factors that disable a person - not a person's impairment. It places a duty on government to remove those barriers to ensure that disabled people have the same rights as other citizens.
Taking these forward
With human rights at its core, this delivery plan also complements the work of Scotland's National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) - a programme of action that aims to realise human rights in all areas of life.
Email: Catherine Hewit