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Swiss disabled demand laws against discrimination

A cross-party political delegation and representatives of several Swiss organisations for the disabled staged a spectacular event Monday as part of a political push for new legislation banning the discrimination of the disabled.

This content was published on June 14, 1999 - 16:22

A cross-party political delegation and representatives of several Swiss organisations for the disabled staged a spectacular event Monday as part of a political push for new legislation banning the discrimination of the disabled.

Marc Suter – himself in a wheelchair and a leading figure in the fight against discrimination – was backed by fellow parliamentarians Jost Gross and Christoffel Brändli when over 120,000 signatures to press the issue were handed over to the Swiss federal authorities in the capital Berne.

Under Swiss law, new legislation can be kickstarted if at least 100,000 signatures can be collected in support of the proposed legislation.

The disabled argue that they regularly feel like second-class citizens as they are often physically prevented from accessing public buildings and offices because of architectural barriers, such as stairs or revolving doors.

In a symbolic move to highlight their plight, a crane positioned outside parliament heaved one disabled person over a wall, along with boxes containing the documents with the signatures.

“We demand legislation that guarantees our right to freedom of movement and unhindered access in public areas,” Suter said during the event.

The disabled demand the same rights as those enjoyed by the non-disabled, also in such areas as education, job training and career opportunities.

The non-discrimination of the disabled is enshrined in the Swiss constitution but the government has so far balked at setting a timetable for the necessary legislative amendments.

The disabled are now trying to push the issue and get the legal guarantees as soon as possible.

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