Letter: Bring people with learning disabilities in from the cold

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The Independent Online
Sir: I join Christopher Williams (letter, 19 September) in congratulating the Independent on highlighting the scandal of the Buckinghamshire homes for people with learning disabilities. However, Monday's coverage of this issue inadvertently provided two examples of the confused thinking and language that help to perpetuate discrimination and abuse. One piece was headed 'Mentally ill used as slaves' and the heading to another referred to 'the rights of the mentally handicapped'. In confusing mental illness and learning disability, and in labelling people with learning disability as a race apart, we

fuel the prejudices we want to eliminate.

If we saw abuse and victimisation of people with learning disabilities as abuse of our rights and an affront to our dignity as human beings, there would be less risk of these things happening and more universal revulsion when they do. That is one reason why Mencap is pressing for the civil rights legislation that will provide tangible recognition of the equal status of the 1 million of us who have learning disabilities with the 50 million of us who do not.

Yours faithfully,

BRIAN RIX

Chairman

Mencap

London, EC1

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