Public Defender's Statement on Promotion of Discriminatory Stereotypes against Persons with Disabilities
The Public Defender of Georgia is echoing the media reports about a sports event organized by the Rustavi Sports Schools Development Center with the support of Rustavi City Hall. According to the Rustavi City Council’s Facebook page, various officials of the town and the region participated in the event. The released photos show that the supposed persons with disabilities, who also took part in the sports event, were wearing T-shirts with an inscription - "Persons with disabilities".
According to the Public Defender’s Report (2015) on the Rights Situation of Persons with Disabilities, despite the multitude of documents and initiatives, persons with disabilities still face obstacles in today's reality in terms of full participation in the public life; their rights re still violated as a result of unhealthy attitudes towards them.
Pursuant to Article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Member States undertake the obligation to take immediate measures to raise public awareness of the issues of disabilities and to enhance respect for these people’s rights and dignity. They have to combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices against persons with disabilities in all areas. In addition, they should more widely disseminate information regarding the skills and activities of the mentioned people. The measures used for achieving the mentioned objectives include: conduct of public awareness-raising campaigns in order to promote realization of the rights of persons with disabilities, positive attitude towards them and social awareness in this field, as well as to recognize the skills, merits and abilities of persons with disabilities.
It should be noted that the abovementioned event was held on the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which has been celebrated since 1992 and serves to promote tolerance, acceptance and awareness in relation to persons with disabilities through creating an inclusive atmosphere.
The Public Defender welcomes the participation of local municipalities in the celebration of similar days, though he believes that due to the high sensitivity of the issue, similar events must be planned extremely carefully in order to avoid violation of the principle of equality and promotion of stigmata in relation to persons with disabilities.
The Public Defender considers that similar cases promote discriminatory stereotypes against persons with disabilities as far as the inscription on the T-shirt emphasizes the distinction between the persons with disabilities and the rest of the society that promotes their marginalization. Each member of the modern democratic society, especially representatives of the authorities, should do their best to create an inclusive environment and raise awareness.
Given all the abovementioned, the Public Defender calls on all individuals and organizations to avoid the use of similar inscriptions or symbols in the wrong context in the future.
 Public Defender’s Report (2015) on the Rights Situation of Persons with Disabilities, p. 39. See: http://www.ombudsman.ge/uploads/other/3/3727.pdf
 Subparagraphs a, b, c, of paragraph 1 of article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.