In the Chamber, her lightness often makes us forget her illness: Mar Galcerán, Spain's first regional elected official with Down syndrome, is fighting to change society's “view” of disability, which is the subject of a revision of the Spanish Constitution approved on THURSDAY .
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The 46-year-old smiling and talkative politician joined the limited circle of people with Down syndrome holding an electoral mandate in Europe in September by taking to the benches of the regional parliament in Valencia, in the southeast of the country.
A mandate that the member of the Popular Party (PP, right) wants to use to “change the way society sees people with disabilities”.
This is also what she expects from the revision of the Spanish Constitution, which aims to replace the term “degraded”, considered demeaning, with “disabled people”, which was finally approved by the Senate on Thursday.
As was the case last week in the House of Representatives, the text was adopted with an overwhelming majority, well exceeding the required three-fifths. Only the right-wing extremist Vox voted against it.
“The term 'diminished', like the term 'disabled', is an insult, an insult to people with a disability,” because “we are not less worthy” than others, she asserts forcefully in an interview with the 'AFP'.
This reform, which will also expand the rights of people with disabilities, is the third of the Spanish Constitution since its adoption in 1978, three years after the end of the Franco regime, and the first of a social nature.
The new wording reminds us that “words matter,” emphasizes Ms. Galcerán, and calls for people with disabilities to be considered “human beings,” regardless of their illness.
A “fair” reform that comes “late”.
The territorial officer joined the PP at the age of 18 and has since continued her campaign and “fight” against discrimination based on her genetic difference, notably as former president of “Asindown”, a regional association representing people with Down syndrome.
This running and dancing fan remembers a youth marked by “rejection.” “I had classmates but no friends because they saw me as a different person” and “didn’t count on me,” she says.
More than society or public policy, it is primarily thanks to her family that the former childcare assistant “always supported her in her decisions”.
Since being sworn in as an elected official, Mar Galcerán has been involved in the Parliamentary Commission on Disability, which, as she explains, deserves a “transversal” approach covering the areas of “health, family, education and employment”, but for “what else a lot remains to be done.”
For this elected official, constitutional reform was one of the priority projects. Although symbolic, she believes it is “just” and “necessary,” even if she believes it comes “too late.”
Article 49 of the Constitution stated that “public authorities shall pursue a policy of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and integration of physically, sensorily and mentally impaired people”.
The new wording establishes that “persons with disabilities” exercise their rights “under conditions of actual and effective freedom and equality.” It also provides that “the special needs of women and disabled minors” are given special consideration.
During the debate in the Chamber of Deputies, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez welcomed “a great day for democracy” and reiterated that this reform amounts to “paying off a moral debt to more than four million Spanish citizens.” degree or another of a disability.
“There is still a long way to go before total inclusion and acceptance of the diversity that defines us,” admitted the head of government, who asked people with disabilities “forgiveness” for using a term that was “so demeaning” to many Years”.
According to Ms Galcerán, the debate over the choice of words is still ongoing. She prefers the term “disabled” to the idea of people with “different abilities,” which she hopes will one day prevail.