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Bill challenges discriminatory laws in India 04th January, 2018

Laws from the British Raj in India to be repealed to protect the rights of people affected by leprosy

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During the British Raj in India, numerous laws were introduced that isolated and discriminated against people affected by leprosy. On 29th December 2017, a Private Members’ Bill on the issue of leprosy was introduced in India’s Parliament, aimed at repealing discriminatory legislation and enshrine in law the human rights of people affected by this ancient disease.

This momentous Bill addresses the crucial issue of discrimination and exclusion of persons affected by leprosy and of their family members on the grounds of leprosy. Although a cure was discovered in the early 1980’s and it is an easily treatable condition, the discrimination against persons affected by it continues both in law and practice. India has over half of the world’s leprosy cases and there are 119 known laws in India, including civil and criminal, that have discriminatory provisions against persons affected by leprosy on sole grounds of the disease. These include leprosy as a ground for divorce; denial of maintenance, rights of movement, rights to political participation, right to work; and provision for segregation.

The Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy and Members of Their Family Bill, 2017 aims to address deep-rooted stigma and discrimination and its negative impact on the social, economic and cultural lives of persons affected by leprosy and members of their families. The Bill also provides for welfare measures for achieving their holistic development and inclusion.

Mr KTS Tulsi, the MP who introduced the Bill to Parliment, works in close coordination with The Leprosy Mission. For many years, TLM has campaigned to see the repeal of these laws, and wholeheartedly supports the Bill. The success of this Bill would give legal backing to the long term work of TLM to integrate leprosy affected people into society, and end the stigma, discrimination and poverty that exclusion laws bring about.

You can lend your voice in support of this Bill, and the advocacy work of The Leprosy Mission by signing the United4change petition.

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