Spanish constitution more inclusive for people with disabilities

by Lorraine Williamson
Spanish constitution

King Felipe VI approved the reform of Article 49 of the Spanish Constitution today (Thursday) at the Zarzuela Palace. This Article used the term ‘disminuido’ (disabled) to indicate that someone has a physical, sensory or psychological disability. 

The Spanish Committee of Representatives of Persons with Disabilities (CERMI) stated that this terminology is outdated and stigmatising. The organisation has long advocated for more inclusive language. That is ‘personas con discapacidad’ (people with disabilities).  ”Disabled” gives the feeling that people with disabilities are inferior. Which is unconstitutional. 

On January 25, the Senate approved the reform of Article 49 of the Constitution. It was proposed to replace the word ‘disabled’ with ‘person with a disability’. All parties, except the far-right Vox party, voted in favour. 

Cogesa Expats

The proposal for a change in the law followed the express route. This was agreed by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the leader of the Partido Popular, Alberto Núñez Feijóo. Because there were no changes made, the reform did not have to go back to Congress. The law will enter into force after publication in the Official Gazette (BOE). 

Strengthening and broadening Spanish democracy 

After the proposal to amend the constitution was approved, there was a waiting period of 15 days. It could be that a parliamentary group would ask for a referendum. Advocate CERMI has “celebrated this successful conclusion. It was a process that the social movement of people with disabilities had been waiting for for a long time. The amendment of the Constitution is a strengthening and broadening of Spanish democracy.” 

Wish to reform the Spanish constitution goes back to 2018 

This amendment to the Constitution for persons with disabilities was already promoted by the CERMI in 2018. With the support of the then vice-president of the government, the socialist Carmen Calvo, a unanimous agreement was reached to replace the article with a new text. A text that is more in keeping with the current times. With a name that is more inclusive. 

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