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Move To Improve Disability Rights

By CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter cnixon@tribunemedia.net MINISTER of State for Social Services Loretta Butler-Turner tabled a Bill in the House of Assembly yesterday which she said will bring the rights of persons with disabilities into the 21st century. The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities) Bill seeks to "establish the framework for equal treatment within the cultural, domestic, economic, educational, health, industrial, legal, political and social arenas in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, as it relates to disability discrimination". Some 30 years in the making, Mrs Butler-Turner said the "important, landmark piece of legislation" will fully define the rights of the disabled and endeavor to eliminate discrimination against them. With this legislation, the Bahamas "can move forward and begin to break down the barriers for all persons, whether it is based on disabilities or gender, in the Bahamas," she said. The Bill's provisions guarantee and protect the fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities as defined in the United Nation's Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It covers: the promotion, protection and full and equal enjoyment of human rights for persons with disabilities; elimination of discrimination on the basis of disabilities; provisions for welfare and rehabilitation; provisions for the registration of persons who are disabled; and the establishment of the Bahamas Disabilities Rights and Commission. Mrs Butler-Turner said the Advisory Council on Disabilities was consulted, as well as all parties and stakeholders. She said their suggestions have been considered and many will be incorporated into the Act. Encouraging the full participation of the public, Mrs Butler-Turner said the Bill can be read on the government's website.

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