Belgium’s Constitution to incorporate disabled people’s rights

Belgium’s Constitution to incorporate disabled people’s rights
Credit: Belga

A draft version of the Belgian Constitution incorporating the rights of people with disabilities to fully participate in society was approved by the Chamber on Friday.

The text, which is included as a subsection under Article 22 and was brought forward from the senate, establishes that "every person with a disability has the right to full inclusion in society, including the right to reasonable accommodation."

"The adoption of this text is a major event, as it is not every day that the Constitution is amended. More than a symbol, this new provision in the Constitution strengthens existing legislation on the protection of the rights of people with disabilities," said Member of the Federal Parliament, Jean-Marc Delizée.

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In line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the adaptation of the Constitution was done by inclusion, rather than by integration.

The text also refers to a "person with a disability", meaning the disability is not seen solely from a medical perspective but in its "environmental" dimension, taking into account the relationship between the disability and the environment seen as a possible cause of exclusion.

The revision of the text, which was finalised after several hearings and the input of expert opinions, was an initiative first brought forward by Members of the Senate Bert Anciaux, Sabine de Bethune, and Philippe Courard, and also implies legal effects for the public authorities.

“The authorities will have to ensure accommodation and positive discrimination, in particular, to guarantee that disabled people will be able to use public services similar to those who are not in this situation,” said former Secretary of State for Persons with a Disability, Courard.

Delizée named this a “historic day”, as this project stalled twice in the last ten years at the end of a legislature before being voted on.

Lauren Walker

The Brussels Times

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