People with intellectual disabilities are often discriminated against and vulnerable to social exclusion.

The right to be treated equally

“Discrimination hurts deep down inside!”

This is what a young woman with intellectual disabilities once said when talking about her daily experiences.

People with intellectual disabilities are often discriminated against and frequently experience social exclusion.

The Treaties allow the European Union to take measures to protect disabled people from discrimination. In 2000, the European Union adopted a directive aimed at fighting discrimination on the labour market in Europe: the Equality in Employment directive. Inclusion Europe monitored and accompanied its transposition into national law very closely, as shown by our Position Paper on that issue with our members’ most important demands.

Important EU strategies and plans in this area include the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (with Inclusion Europe advocating for an ambitious strategy for the post-2020 period) and the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy.

Most importantly, since 2011 the EU is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), which commits it to ensure the equal enjoyment of all human rights by all persons with disabilities. Inclusion Europe works a lot on and with the convention

  • to make sure the General Comments on its specific articles take the views of people with intellectual disabilities and their families into account and
  • to remind member states and the EU as a whole of their obligations.

On the EU level, a draft “horizontal” Directive against discrimination in all areas of life was discussed, but, due to the opposition of several EU member states, its adoption was stopped.

One aspect of discrimination is often overlooked in discussions about discrimination: the so-called “discrimination by association”, faced especially by family members of people with intellectual disabilities. In many European countries, they are denied equal opportunities, be it in economic terms or in terms of full participation in society. Inclusion Europe continues to advocate for the rights and interests of these family members at European level.


Further reading:

Equality and Non-Discrimination: Submission to the UN Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Key Issues for a General Comment on Article 5


Children’s rights for all reports

Our work brings the voice of people with intellectual disabilities and their families where decisions about their future are made.

This has always been incredibly important. It is even more so with the Covid pandemic drastic impact on their rights and lives.

Being visible and vocal on issues directly affecting millions of people requires your support. 

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