Saturday, 20 August 2016

My tribute to Brian Rix

Brian Rix, aka Lord Rix, former Mencap chair and disability rights campaigner, passed away earlier today.

He was not only well-known for his acting, especially in farcical Whitehall comedies of the 1960s and 1970s, but more importantly in my opinion for his tireless work campaigning for the rights of people with learning disabilities, especially after his first daughter, born in 1951, was diagnosed with Down's syndrome. Back then, children with learning disabilities still had no educational or vocational rights and some were still being sent to long-stay hospitals even as they were going into decline in the long-term and even as the ableist science of eugenics was being disowned by many. He was secretary general of Mencap for eight years starting in 1980, and later chair and president of this organisation right up until his death. In those 36 years of Brian's campaigning, we have come a long way on the road to understanding and acceptance of people who have learning disabilities (and other disabilities in general) but it is still a road we need to keep travelling along. However, I particularly credit him with his (initial) opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill, making sure carers of disabled people have a right to short breaks from work, and helping the 2006 Electoral Administration Act uphold disabled peoples' rights to vote, especially those with learning disabilities.

To him, therefore, I give my farewell, and thank him for undertaking this noble quest so that British society can become more welcoming and inclusive of disabled people and for making sure their voice could be heard and their rights could be exercised at the same level as everyone else.

Posted in memory of Brian Norman Roger Rix, born 17 January 1924, disability rights campaigner and actor, who departed this life on 20 August 2016, aged 92 years.





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