Geneva grants full rights to mentally disabled citizens

A first in Switzerland: Voters in Geneva have come out in favour of granting people with severe mental or physical disabilities full political rights. © Keystone/Martial Trezzini

People with severe mental or physical disabilities have won full political rights in Geneva – the first Swiss canton to introduce the reform.

This content was published on November 29, 2020 - 13:48

Nearly 75% of voters in Geneva on Sunday approved an amendment of the cantonal constitution, endorsing a decision taken by the cantonal parliament earlier this year, according to official final resultsExternal link.

About 1,200 citizens will be able to benefit from the new regulations to participate in the political decision-making process both at cantonal and local level.

 About 14,000 citizens across Switzerland have a legal guardian because of a severe mental or physical disability. However, they are excluded from votes and elections.

People under guardianship can request their political rights in three of the country’s 26 cantons.

Supporters of a reform argue that current law goes against the constitution and international regulations. Switzerland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesExternal link in 2014.

Opponents have warned that third parties could take unfair advantage by voting for a disabled person.

Several European countries, including neighbouring France, Italy and Austria, as well as Britain and Spain, grant disabled people their full political rights, according to the Inclusion Handicap interest group.

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