People with intellectual disabilities must be treated as equal citizens
“A fellow self-advocate once told me: ‘I don’t feel equal to the others because I’m not allowed to vote!’” This is what Inclusion Europe’s vice-president László Bercse once said. Voting is a fundamental right, it is one of the most important ways of influencing political decisions which, in turn, have an impact on our lives. Withdrawing this right from someone means not recognising them as equal citizens.
Even though recently there have been improvements in countries such as Denmark, France, Germany and Spain, in many European countries, people with intellectual disabilities still do not have the right to vote. Often, this right is automatically taken away from them once their legal capacity is taken away from them and they are put under guardianship. Sometimes, they must come before a judge and answer unreasonable questions which aim at “determining” if they should be given this fundamental right.
Of course, this kind of treatment violates the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD). Its article 29 reaffirms that people with disabilities should be able to “effectively and fully participate in political and public life […], including the right and opportunity […] to vote and be elected“.
Inclusion Europe has always held the opinion that everyone has legal capacity and therefore voting rights. Some people may need support to make decisions, including who to vote for, – but they should be accompanied in making these decisions, not be deprived of their rights.
Guardianships should cease completely and be replaced by supported decision-making mechanisms. But as long as they still exist, we advocate to open the right to vote to people under guardianship.
There are many ways in which voting can become accessible to people with intellectual disabilities, for example by producing information material on the elections in easy-to-read, or by allowing a supporter to accompany a person into the voting booth.
Voting Rights: overview of right to vote and stand for election in the EU
Voting for all! How to make elections easier to understand and take part in: This document shows national inclusion organisations they can do in the run-up to elections to ensure that they are as accessible as possible, by the provision and effective dissemination of accessible information and by raising awareness amongst politicians, electoral bodies and citizens themselves about the importance of accessibility measures and full participation of all citizens in elections.
Recommendations for Accessible Elections in Europe covering five key areas: legislation on legal capacity, accessible information, training, support for decision-making in voting, and access to the voting process.
- Česky: Doporučené postupy pro přístupné volby a ve snadném čtení: Jak udělat volby přístupnější
- Français: Recommandations pour des élections accessibles en Europe
- Candidats aux élections, rendez-vous accessibles !
Good Practices for Accessible Elections in Europe
Right to decide and political life
- Right to decide and political life. How (the denial of) legal capacity impacts citizenship (.pdf)
- Right to decide and political life – easy-to-read (.pdf)
- Droit de décider et vie politique De quelle manière (le déni de) la capacité juridique impacte la citoyenneté ? (.pdf)
- Entscheidungsrechte und politisches LebenWie die Versagung der Rechtsfähigkeit sich auf die Staatsbürgerschaft auswirkt (.pdf)
- Prawo do podejmowania decyzji i do uczestnictwa w życiu politycznymJak zdolność do czynności prawnych (lub jej brak) wpływa naobywatelskość (.pdf)
- A döntéshez való jog és a politikai élet Könnyen érthető változat A vastag betűs szavak magyarázatát a szöveg végén találod (.pdf)
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.
Become Inclusion Europe supporter and help us keep doing our work.