It is a big step forward for equal civil rights for people with intellectual disabilities in France: the French president Emmanuel Macron has announced that the state will open the right to vote for all persons with intellectual disabilities under guardianship, as part of “a policy of return to full citizenship”. 360,000 adults under full guardianship who currently do not automatically receive the right to vote will be affected.
Disability rights organisations have fought hard for this step to be taken. Before 2005, people under full guardianship were not allowed to go to the polls in France. Later, the law was changed to make the right to vote subject to the approval of a judge. The amendment announced now will finally grant the right to vote to all people under full guardianship without any restrictions. It will also help France respect the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the country has ratified.
Jyrki Pinomaa: “We should question guardianship altogether”
Inclusion Europe’s president Jyrki Pinomaa welcomed the decision, stating that “this is a step in the right direction to recognise people with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens.” However, he argued, “we should go one step further and question guardianship altogether. Supported decision-making should become the norm to replace guardianship regimes and to allow people to make decisions about their own lives.”
Following Macron’s announcement, France will become the 8th EU member state without any restrictions regarding the right to vote for people with intellectual disabilities. 15 member states at present automatically deprive people under guardianship from their right to vote, and six make it a condition that a judge gives its approval.
Yet even with the change in the law, people under guardianship will still be automatically deprived of their right to stand for election, a situation which affects 650,000 people under partial and full guardianship in the country. “This will also need to be addressed”, according to Jyrki Pinomaa.
Read also: “No one should be deprived of their right to vote because of their disabilities” – Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has intervened before the European Court of Human Rights
Click on a word which is in bold to read what it means.
France opens the vote to more people with intellectual disabilities
There are 360,000 adults under full guardianship in France.
At present, a judge is allowed to take away their right to vote.
After the changes, a judge will not be allowed
to take away their right to vote anymore.
Organisations for people with disabilities
have worked hard to make this happen.
This will also help France to respect the UN CRPD.
Jyrki Pinomaa is the president of Inclusion Europe.
He said, “this is a step in the right direction.
But we should go one step further.
People should be supported to make their own choices,
instead of having guardians make their decisions for them.”
At the moment, people under guardianship
cannot vote in 15 member states.
In 6 member states, a judge decides
if someone under guardianship can vote.