This commentary takes the article, “Participation of adults with learning disabilities in the 2015 United Kingdom General Election”, as a jumping-off point for considering a tension between the aim of full and equal equality for all people with disabilities as set out in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and more traditional beliefs, that on occasion, it is necessary to deny legal autonomy of men and women with intellectual disabilities in order to protect them. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
This issue is explored by reviewing the multiple and often conflicting ways in which disability and intellectual disability are conceptualised.
Given the multiple and contradictory ways in which both disability and intellectual disability are understood, any discussion of the rights of persons with disabilities is going to be highly problematic.
Equal recognition before the law and the presumption that all persons with intellectual disabilities can – with support – make autonomous decisions could be treated as an empirical question.
The author would like to thank Dr Patrick McKearney, Dr Isabel Clare, Dr Howard Ring and Professor Tony Holland for their insights when discussing the issues that are raised in this paper, as well as the Health Foundation which funded the author’s salary.
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