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Deaf and dumb banned from being Councillors!

It seems that Deaf people aren't allowed to stand for election because of an election law dating back to 1766. Bournemouth Council disqualified "deaf and dumb persons" from standing as councillors.

For international readers, a Councillor is an elected person, involved with stragetic and political governance of their local council. Politics and administration on a local scale.

Bournemouth has since apologised, for the language used. However, nowhere in the reporting does it state that Deaf people can become Councillors, and just highlights an old law as an excuse to discriminate. If this council needs a little help, may I point out that we've already had two Deaf Councillors who use BSL, David Buxton and Stephen Dering. Both have since stood down, but it begs a question. Myra Goldberg also stood for council elections too.

Because of this law, does this mean that David and Stephen's time as Councillors was invalid and illegal? Or has this law since been repealed? How would this stand up to the DDA or Disability Equality Duty anyway?

Source.

A council today apologised for banning "lunatics, idiots, deaf and dumb" people from standing for election in a seaside town.

The notes, issued by Bournemouth Borough Council as part of an election pack, stated that "lunatics and idiots" and "deaf and dumb persons" were disqualified from standing as councillors during the elections on May 3.

Matt Pitcher, electoral services officer at the council, said it was a mistake and that the terms were taken directly from Election Law dating back to 1766.

He said: "The terminology used as part of our election pack to candidates was unfortunately taken directly from a piece of Election Law which dates from 1766 but is still current today.

"Of course such language is certainly not acceptable today and the council recognises this should not have happened.

"Bournemouth Council treats all people fairly whatever their sexual orientation, age, religious belief, disability, gender or race and the council apologises unreservedly for any offence which may have been caused. The information pack has been amended."

Fiona King, fundraising manager at charity Hearing Concern, criticised the council and said: "In the old, unenlightened days, people thought that because you were deaf, you couldn't speak.

"When deaf people tried to speak without training, their voices sounded strange and so they were labelled dumb.

"The phrase deaf and dumb is a no-no because dumb now means dim and as they say, we are deaf, not daft."

Comments (1)

Hey, thanks for bringing this to attention - somebody did tell me about such a law when I was doing my research on citizenship, but I've been unable to find it as I was under the impression it was created as part of the Act of Union 1707...bingo, and thanks to you again. I'm not aware of it having been repealed, but could be wrong. Personally, while this law hasn't stopped Deaf people standing as elected representatives (in the past or recent present) as the statement says, "it is still current today" and, as you've pointed out, they are careful not to actually encourage deaf people to apply (just that they treat everyone equally).

I definitely think this is something worth bringing into any future legislation, around a BSL Act for example - i.e. within the new legislation reference would be made to the 1766 Act, stating it is repealed and the new one takes its place.

A good response would be for a Deaf citizen in Bournemouth to go ahead and stand, make something of it as well as wider political issues they support, though it might be too late now?

Hope this makes sense :-) S

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