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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

LET’S NOT TURN DISABILITY INTO A DIVISIVE POLITICAL ISSUE

In Malta, the interests of disabled people received support from all political parties - irrespective of their political ideologies. In fact, the first act to pass with the full backing of the Maltese parliament was the first comprehensive anti-discrimination act protecting disabled people from being discriminated on the basis of disability - the Equal Opportunities (Persons with Disability) Act of 2000. I find that the unanimous support for the cause of disabled people by the political parties has made it possible for many of us who are disabled people ourselves to be included more and more in society.

As a disabled person, I believe that while one can speak of a ‘disability politics’ based on a social model understanding of disability which roots the main problems we face as disabled people in the way society is organised in such a way that it takes little or no account of our impairments, I believe that the issue of disability should never become the toy of politicians to win votes from those who find themselves in already difficult situations. Indeed, such political expediency is nothing else than exploitation of those who feel marginalised and may be willing to cling to any electoral promise which may, in truth, never be realised by an approach based on confrontation and enmity.

Let us not forget that disability is an issue that cuts across age, gender, race, faith or belief, sexual orientation and political conviction. I feel it would be too dangerous if this issue becomes politicised to the extent of creating unnecessary tension which, I assure you, will make it even more difficult for us, disabled people, to continue progress in inclusion and in achieving greater independence. Indeed, rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel or wasting our precious time and energy in endless political debate, our political parties should focus on improving on what has already been achieved by all Maltese citizens. I, myself, feel that some politicians are more prone to make empty promises and make claims that are not evidence based just to gain political points from those who still feel marginalised or unaware of what Malta has achieved in the disability sector.

I appeal to Maltese people and to politicians NOT to be tempted to turn disability into a political game. For, if disability issues become the stuff of party division and controversy, no one will be a winner.

I make this appeal to you on three grounds:

First, as a disabled person, I have seen a lot of progress happening in Malta thanks to political goodwill to increase inclusion and improve on our quality of life as disabled persons.

Second, as a disability activist, I believe that the political unity so far expressed by the political class has been pivotal in ensuring that we are treated equally as other Maltese citizens. Needless division on disability issue will only lead to disaster, or even to a regression in terms of what we have achieved so far.

Third, as another Maltese citizen, I caution politicians or others who are involved in the disability sector, not to use us disabled people, to attain political advantage or to increase your votes. We have been exploited too much already.

So, let’s be politically united on the issue of disability , shall we?

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