LAWMAKERS from all of the parties in Spain’s Congress of Deputies, with the exception of far-right Vox, took the first step on Tuesday to remove the word ‘disminuido’, meaning people with disabilities, from the wording of the country’s Constitution.
The vote in favour of beginning the process of changing Article 49 in the country’s Magna Carta came after a day-long debate by deputies on the issue in the Senate, given that Congress is currently closed for refurbishment.
The cross-party agreement marked a rare occasion when the governing Socialists and the main opposition Partido Popular (PP) were able to find common ground. In fact, the text up for debate was agreed in December between the Socialists and the PP.
In the end, there were 315 votes in favour, and 33 abstentions – all by the far-right Vox party.
The word ‘disminuido’ is similar to the English term ‘handicapped’. Both were once considered acceptable for talking about people with disabilities but have since fallen out of favour.
Activist groups representing people with disabilities have long been campaigning for the term to be changed in the Constitution.
Changes to the Constitution can only be approved if they count on three-fifths of the votes both in Congress and the Senate. For the plan to pass this first hurdle in the lower house, it was essential for both the PP and the Socialists to back it.
The change to the Constitution will be voted on definitively on Thursday by lawmakers, and is likely to be approved by all parties except Vox.
“This is a historic day,” said Socialist deputy Emilio Saez during the debate on Tuesday. “Today we will break down another barrier to equality and dignify ourselves as a society,” continued Saez, who was left with disabilities aged three due to polio and is the spokesperson for the Commission on Comprehensive Disability Policies in Congress.