Lawyers attack government disabled paper

DISABLED lawyers have delivered a damning response to the Government's consultation paper on discrimination against the disabled.

In a report presented to the Government last week, the Law Society's Group for Solicitors with Disabilities (GSD) says statements in the paper are “insulting” and it fails to address the problem properly.

The group says the paper's claims that legislation would result in spiralling litigation are unsupported, and similar experience in the US shows new laws have not caused an upsurge in litigation.

The Government's paper, which calls for responses on issues including employment and access to goods and services, claims “sweeping legislation” would not achieve “comprehensive civil rights” for the

disabled.

But the GSD says the “education and persuasion” approach endorsed by the Government is ineffective unless backed by a Civil Rights Act.

Group chair Richard Dunford says people with disabilities continue to be treated as “second class citizens” 13 years after the United Nations held its Year of Disabled People.

“The Government's proposals fail to provide any assurance that such discrimination will be eliminated,” he says.

“We believe only the introduction of comprehensive legislation, backed by sanctions, will provide the necessary engine for a change in social attitudes.”