ATHENS – A bill clarifying and incorporating into Greek law the equal access of people with special needs in terms of civil rights and public services was passed by majority vote in Parliament on Thursday.
It was approved by ruling New Democracy and PASOK-KINAL, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Greek Solution and MeRA25 voted ‘present’.
Main opposition SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance is currently abstaining from parliamentary voting plenary sessions.
The bill, drafted by the Ministry of Justice, incorporates all the relevant directives per the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the final conclusions (Oct. 29, 2019) of the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and all the initiatives of the Greek government’s National Action Plan for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Specifically, the bill provides for the implementation of the principle of equal treatment – regardless of disability or chronic illness – in terms of social welfare, including social security and health coverage; social benefits and tax incentives; education; and access to goods and services that are available to the general public, including housing.
Another key provision allows for the immediate and effective access of people with special needs and disabilities to the country’s courts and relevant services.
Commenting on the voting, Justice Minister Constantine Tsiaras expressed regret “such an opportunity to show the maturity of the Greek Parliament was lost.” Criticism is welcome, but what criticism was expressed was not focused on the bill itself, he added. Criticising Syriza for “having done absolutely nothing for special needs people in the field of justice” during its tenure in government, he added that there is a lot of talk about equal rights for special needs people but “when the time of action comes, we suddenly find a way to slip away.”