ERG/AOP ‘shocked by removal of disabled facility’


Equality Rights Group (ERG)/Action on Poverty (AOP) have expressed ‘strong dismay at reports that a severely disabled person and their elderly father allegedly had to struggle badly to use the toilet at a downtown shopping centre. This is an unpalatable scenario to have to highlight but it illustrates precisely the unacceptable face of everyday discrimination that the disabled can still encounter even today.

‘According to reports, the previous disability toilet facility at this location has been locked up and re-purposed for the exclusive use of able-bodied staff as a result of abuse of the facility by non-entitled individuals.

Matthew Turnock, Disability Coordinator for ERG/AOP explained that ‘the group has written to the Management of the outlet, asking for explanations as the ‘solution’ seems to worsen, not improve the situation. We are willing to understand what has led to this regrettable situation, and are certain that there has been an unfortunate error somewhere along the way. An error we can assist in correcting.

‘Circumstances such as these do not only physical but also psychological harm, too.

‘Gibraltar, however, has what is known as a ‘Radar Key System’, which is a skeleton key system for use by authorised disabled toilet users and which guarantees that access can only be obtained by those in possession of such keys. Opting for better solutions rather than withdrawing an important facility is something we’re happy to assist with.

‘The UK uses this key extensively in over 1,000 such facilities, and Gibraltar administers the same scheme via the Ministry for Equality.

“For a system meant to increase accessibility for the disabled, it is unfortunate that disabled citizens can be put off by the Ministry’s extraordinary amount of red tape that can stand in the way of what, in fact, ought to be the easiest and friendliest of processes for obtaining such keys; liaison with the Ministry in this endeavour is certainly an offer we hope their offices are able to respond to.

‘As Disability Coordinator for ERG/AOP I will be happy to work with facility managements and the relevant Ministerial representatives to bring the improvements necessary, because this situation cannot be allowed to repeat; and because we believe there is good will within both government and the business sector to make that happen,’ the statement ended.


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