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Government accused of discrimination over Early Re-opening Programme

Government accused of discrimination over Early Re-opening Programme
17th May 2021 Ian Streets

A group which promotes inclusivity for disabled people has written to the Prime Minister to call for equality in delivering the Early Re-opening Programme for public events.
Disability Rights UK (DRUK) says disabled people are being discriminated against by being excluded from the plan.
In an open letter, DRUK’s CEO Kamran Mallick also says the government is fuelling discrimination by referring to disabled people generally as “vulnerable”. He also said there was a lack of consultation over the matter.
DRUK campaigns for the rights of all disabled people to be included in every aspect of life and Kamran’s letter noted: “There are 14 million people with disabilities in the UK. Most of those have non-visible disabilities. Venues hosting events being managed by the Early Re-opening Programme (ERP) are being required to exclude, amongst others, ‘vulnerable’ people.”
Kamran wrote that use of the word “vulnerable” places the government in breach of its obligations under the Equality Act to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited, advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it, and foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.
He added that the government may be causing those hosting the events to breach the Equality Act, rendering them liable to individual claims of direct and indirect discrimination.
The letter observed that disabled fan advocacy organisations such as Level Playing Field (LPF) and the Centre for Access to Football in Europe (CAFE) have both published reports setting out recommendations for the safe return of spectators to football stadiums.
The London School of Economics has also published a recent study which builds upon the work of LPF and CAFE to deliver a series of recommendations that could be used by stadium operators to facilitate a disability-inclusive return.
Kamran wrote: “It does not appear that the ERP has consulted with those organisations representing disabled people, and that on the evidence in the public domain there has been no consideration of the positive benefit that would accrue by including disabled people in the crowds for these pilot events – in particular equality of opportunity and the fostering of good relations.
“By excluding disabled people from these events, the data will be of limited or modest value by failing to take into account that crowds attending events with inevitably include disabled people with a wide range of visible and non-visible disabilities.
“Further, according to the Government’s claims the ‘vulnerable’/disabled community have either been vaccinated or have been offered vaccinations, meaning that the risk to them and others in allowing them to attend events is significantly less than non-disabled people permitted to attend.
“For all of the above reasons, we strongly encourage you to change your policy to allow disabled people to attend the pilot events being co-ordinated by the ERP.
“We should also add that we are all extremely surprised that the Government is taking such initiatives, however well meaning, without consultation with disabled people and their representative organisations.”

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