1. ITV Report

Guernsey Disability Alliance criticises proposed changes to discrimination laws

The organisation will seek an 'urgent meeting' after it was announced that the proposed law was to be 'refocussed.' Credit: ITV Channel TV

A disability advocacy group in Guernsey has criticised proposed changes to the island's discrimination laws.

The Guernsey Disability Alliance (GDA) says it will seek an 'urgent meeting' with representatives from the States after it was announced that the proposed law was to be 'refocussed'.

Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of the Committee for Employment and Social Security, said the proposed law had received a 'massive, but mostly polarised' response. As a result, some parts of the legislation would be 'revisited', which includes the interpretation of the word 'disability'.

In a statement, the GDA described the situation as 'extremely concerning', saying the proposed 'medical approach' to defining disability would be detrimental to islanders.

Such an approach has a place when assessing need but has no place when judging eligibility to protection from discrimination.

The medical model has been widely discredited by experts (including those experts who have been advising the States), as discriminatory, unhelpful, complex and likely to invite litigation.

Moreover, such an approach would not comply with either the States’ Disability and Inclusion Strategy or with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the States is committed.

– Guernsey Disability Alliance

The States heard criticism from parts of the island's business community about the potential impact that the legislation may have. However, the GDA says this impact has been 'misunderstood' and is based on 'grossly exaggerated costs'.

They also say the States should not rush through legislation that has been so long in the making.

While it may be expedient to get something “over the line”, it would be a disaster if, after more than ten years of preparing the ground, learning the lessons from other jurisdictions and seeking renowned expert advice, disabled people were once again fobbed off with a fudge, being told by others with little experience, less expertise and flawed understanding, what protections they must accept.

Such an approach is likely to do more harm than good and will not comply with the policies and with the internationally agreed conventions the States are committed to.

– Guernsey Disability Alliance