The realisation of one’s human rights is a significant measure for a dignified life. Ensuring these fundamental rights for people affected by leprosy and their families with discrimination-free and equal access to opportunities and spaces is a continuous struggle. TLMTI is working to address this gap through policy-level intervention at the centre, state and district-levels.
Compounding this situation is a plethora of laws that are discriminatory towards people affected by leprosy. They infringe upon their right to use public spaces, continuing in a marriage, contesting elections, using public transport, etc. Additionally, various state beggary laws criminalise them on account of beggary. The existence of such laws perpetuates and legitimises the practice of exclusion and segregation on the basis of the disease. These laws ought to have been repealed after leprosy became curable and there was no further need or justification for segregation. However, these laws and many others with indirect discriminatory provisions continue to exist in statute books in India. One of the main objectives of The Leprosy Mission Trust India’s (TLMTI) Advocacy programme is to make sure that these laws are struck down or suitably amended. Under its efforts for policy-based interventions, TLMTI is currently working on:
The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD)
Representing the voice of the people affected by leprosy and the member-organisations of International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP), TLMTI had contributed to the proceedings before the Standing Committee of the Parliament on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, when it was under review. TLMTI has also submitted suggestions to the Government of India in the process of the creation of rules under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.
Report No. 256 of the Law Commission of India, titled, ‘Eliminating Discrimination Against Persons Affected by Leprosy.
TLMTI worked closely with the Law Commission of India, as a part of its core committee, in drafting Report No. 256 on ‘Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy’. The report also provides a model draft legislation, titled ‘Eliminating Discrimination against Persons Affected by Leprosy (EDPAL) Bill, 2015’. This draft law contains principles of non-discrimination and equal protection before the law that must be guaranteed to all persons affected by leprosy and their family members. It also seeks to promote the social inclusion of persons affected by leprosy and their family members through affirmative action.
‘The Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy and Members of their Family (Protection against Discrimination and Guarantee of Social Welfare) Bill, 2017’
TLMTI is working closely with Senior Supreme Court of India advocate and Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), KTS Tulsi, who plans to introduce a Private Members’ Bill, titled ‘The Rights of Persons Affected by Leprosy and Members of their Family (Protection against Discrimination and Guarantee of Social Welfare) Bill, 2017, in the Parliament to addresses the legal discrimination faced by people affected by leprosy.
TLMTI is currently engaged in working with multiple stakeholders to make sure that laws discriminatory to people affected by leprosy are repealed, and they are included in the development process as equal citizens.