Weekly Poll – Human Rights (Week Beginning 15 March 2021)

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue.  For the week beginning 15 March 2021, we asked a question about a proposed Human Rights bill.


Do you think a Human Rights bill will help to improve the lives of disabled people in Scotland?

  • YES – 83% (155 respondents)
  • NO – 17% (32 respondents)


We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

Support for the Proposed Bill

The vast majority of respondents (83%) believed that a new Human Rights bill will help to improve the lives of disabled people in Scotland. One of the core recommendations of the Human Rights Leadership report is to incorporate the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) into domestic law.

“The introduction of a well thought out Human Rights bill would benefit disabled people, ensuring that their needs are met and allowing for inclusion in all settings.

“For far too long now many disabled people (seen or unseen) have been put to the side of the road with little or no help from various sources. I think a bill being passed should give us somewhere to get help from (again if it’s not kept a secret and doors closed in your face).”

“To have such rights enshrined in Scottish law can only be a good thing and will, in my view, help improve the lives of those of us with disabilities.”

“We are all human rights holders, and it makes a difference to have this platform and these levers to help defend our human rights.”


Respondents believed that in order for a new bill to be effective, it must be enforced in a meaningful and transparent way. Some respondents commented that existing legislation supporting the rights of disabled people is ineffective due to a lack of enforcement and support for disabled people to challenge discrimination and human rights breaches.

“I think it will make a difference as long as the bill has teeth meaning that if people flout the law, they will be severely punished for it. There is no point in this coming into law if nothing will happen.”

“The bill must be “policed” properly for it to be effective. Every effort must be made to reduce the avoidance of the various pieces of legislation so that the meaning of each bill is employed and a difference is made, but to do that financial support would need to be addressed as well.”

“The problem isn’t the law – it’s the lack of enforcement and criminal sanctions available. If you have your rights breached today you have to pay for a lawyer which you can’t afford if you’re on benefits and you’re fighting organisations with legal teams which make it unaffordable and too risky.”

“Existing laws regarding rights for disabled people are often ignored now – adding an extra bill will not fix this problem. The rights already exist in one way or another, but people ignore them.”

“The Equality Act 2010 provides excellent protection for disabled people. But redress comes under the “Simplified procedure for small claims” in the sheriff court. The procedure is designed to encourage people to conduct their own cases without a solicitor. For many disabled people this is impossible. The only change that is needed is for legal aid to be granted automatically for all disabled people who have suffered discrimination or violation of their rights. We don’t need new laws – we need proper enforcement of existing laws.”

“We need effective enforcement, not more legislation which just gets ignored. Current disability legislation is very good; having more won’t make it better unless there is more case law to back it up.”

Inclusive Communication

It is vital for the concept of inclusive communication to be embedded in the proposed bill. Disabled people face widespread exclusion and discrimination when their communication strengths and preferences are not met.  It is estimated that over a million people in Scotland have some form of communication support need. This means it is a concern for all of our communities and public authorities. Disability Equality Scotland is working with Sense Scotland to host the Inclusive Communication Hub (www.inclusivecommunication.scot). This website provides tools and guidance on how to make information and communications accessible to as many people as possible.

“The bill must explicitly recognise inclusive communication and acknowledge that we all have communication strengths and preferences.”

“It also fails to take account of the views of Deaf/disabled people as expressed in What Next for Scotland.”

“I always find it telling that reports that discuss disabilities and rights are often not accessible to disabled people. If there is one group of documentation that should be accessible it is these. I accept that these documents are intended for a wide audience but by ignoring those with learning disabilities, as one example, you are perpetuating the myth that we know better and the only way you can contribute is through organisations that don’t always represent the views of the people with disabilities.”

Attitudes and Behaviours

Respondents reflected on the continued abuse and discrimination faced by disabled people. The proposed bill needs to be supported by a public awareness campaign to influence attitudes and behaviours.

“It doesn’t matter how many “rights” disabled people have, it’s the person who goes against it that’s the problem. There is no law in the world, that will stop people from giving verbal abuse to disabled people, or future employers, saying they don’t discriminate, but still bypass disabled people.”

“People’s attitudes towards disabled or less able people has to change in a massive way. Like racism towards different nationalities, people only see what is in front of them. There is no pride in helping others or wanting to help others.”

“It is attitudes that have to change but rights are a start.”

“What are words when people do not listen or care or when their personal desires and needs are more important than others. The needs of the majority still outweigh the needs of the few! How many people continue to disregard and ignore Covid rules and advice is a prime example.”

Implementation and Support

For the proposed bill to be meaningful and effective, it is vital to involve disabled people and Access Panels. Respondents highlighted the need to support organisations with resources and training to meet requirements of the proposed bill. There were also suggestions for greater support for innovative ways to teach human rights in schools.

“The implementation of this bill would take time and changes would not be seen immediately. I also have concerns around the training of members of the public and organisations’ adoption of this.”

“We need to make these rights a reality. Then it will be real and embedded in Scots Law. Now the work begins.”

“This is a welcome move, but these rights need to be central in every strategy, plan and policy. We need to see this translating through to enable an equal and just society for all.”

“Human rights need to be taught at schools, and also at employers.”

“The bill is not enough this has to be taught in schools from primary through to secondary schools.”


To conclude, the proposed Human Rights bill, which is subject to the outcome of the upcoming Scottish Parliament election, is widely supported by the majority of respondents. Disabled people reflected on the continued abuse and discrimination that they are subjected to on a daily basis. For the bill to be effective, it must be properly enforced in a meaningful and transparent manner. Inclusive communication practices must also be embedded through all aspects of the bill. To support the implementation, it is essential to involve disabled people and Access Panels from across the country.

Disability Equality Scotland, March 2021