Ihave been a proud member of the Conservative Party for over 30 years. As someone with a disability, I was delighted when the Conservatives introduced the Disability Discrimination Act in 1995. I welcomed William Hague’s empowering vision, as the then Minister for Disabled People, and his recognition that equality of opportunity matters as much to disabled people as it does, for example, to women and members of the BAME and LGBT communities.
That was 25 years ago. There is, of course, more to be done, but the progress towards equality for all three of those ‘protected characteristics’, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, has been exciting and, in the case of gender and sexuality, revolutionary. That fills me with hope.
In contrast, the Government’s policy on disability discrimination fills me with dismay. Tom Harwood typically crystallises the issue: ‘Conservatives should highlight the wrongs of slicing and dicing society into identity groups…’ To do so is to deny the reality of intersectionality, that a human being can be, for example, a disabled, black lesbian, thereby combining a number of protected characteristics. By law, their right to equality of opportunity and treatment should be neither diminished nor enhanced by virtue of any one of them.