Harrow Asian Deaf Club’s Fight for your Rights 2013, with Peter Tatchell well- known LGBT Campaigner as one of our key speaker
Saturday 2nd June 2013 at
Bentley Day Centre, 94 Uxbridge Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA3 6DH
Harrow Asian Deaf Club members were enthralled and deeply inspired by powerful speakers when HADC hosted an event ‘Fight for your Rights’ on Saturday 2nd June 2013 at Bentley Day Centre, Harrow.
The event commenced with a special speech by Asif Iqbal MBE President of HADC, offering warm congratulations on behalf of HADC to Her Majesty the Queen for her 60th anniversary of her Coronation this week. HRH The Queen have been a great source of inspiration for many of us in UK and across the world and our message is being delivered to the Queen by our Patron to John Purnell, Deputy Lieutenant for Harrow.
The event was then opened by Honorary Alderman Keith Toms, Chairman of Harrow Council who was also inspired by the warm welcome of HADC and explained the recent success of the Harrow Deaf Awareness Day, saying how he learnt so much from the day and ensured his colleagues take up some of the urgent matters raised from the service users and their families/ carers, with view of resolutions/ action plan to improve deaf people’s access to services in Harrow.
Honorary Alderman Keith Toms also added in his speech: “The main theme of today event is ‘Fight for your right’ so think about the importance of your rights which is the basic human right and to be empowered in sharing your views. This is your opportunity to do something about the barriers you faces every day. Harrow Council believe that ‘Equality is about making sure people are treated fairly and given fair chances. Equality is not about treating everyone in the same way, but it recognises that their needs are met in different ways’, including LGBT and deaf people aswell”.
The audiences were treated with powerful speeches and presentations from the four keynote speakers, starting with Peter Tatchell, a well known human right campaigner on LGBT issues and shared his powerful stories on his experiences of oppressions on political level and how he fought back with high profile campaigns that captured the hearts of many people who supported his causes. He was well-known in UK and worldwide. The audiences empathized with him especially the oppressions he faced as a minority within minority, as it was similar to the experiences Deaf people faces when being oppressed by hearing society.
The second keynote speaker Sylvia Simmonds, one of the Founders of the ‘Spit the Dummy Campaign’ (STDC) Facebook group who campaigned for BSL Act, explained about the history of BSL recognition in March 2003 and 10 years on, nothing much changes and deaf people still faced so many barriers/ discrimination. Silvia called for a formal BSL Act with some rights that are not enshrined very well in the current Equality Act which is currently failing many deaf people. For example, Equality Act says you [service provider] must provide BSL interpreter but service providers have no idea what Equality Act is all about. The term ‘reasonable adjustments’ has been incorrectly interpreted and the consequences of service providers’ failure to understand their requirements under the Equality Act including being taken to court and been heavily fined for not complying with the Act.
Sylvia Simmonds explained the mission of STDC is “to achieve its vision; for Her Majesty’s Government (The Government) to review and endorse our campaign request to upgrade the position of BSL from ‘Recognition’ to ‘Legal status’ as this will improve the BSL community’s access to society and provide equal opportunities for all.” Also with the BSL Act, the campaign is for BSL to be given equal status to English, Welsh and Gaelic and other spoken languages in UK, and used in public authorities, court service etc ensuring equal access to public services, bilingual/bicultural education for deaf children, and BSL recognition as legal status.
Positive outcomes so far from STDC for BSL Act including:
- BSL community got involved with EDM 1167 – achieving good support with 122 signatures from MPs within 5 weeks. MPs start to talk about BSL Community.
- BSL community contribute with BSL video, comments regularly with Admin support, with new posts every day. They have gained the confidence to challenge and request their rights to access.
- FB members empowered with support/advocate involvement
- Supporting each other in both BSL and English
Finally, two key note speakers, Tom Lichy and Geraldine O’ Halloran explained how deaf people can be empowered by their experiences of oppression and how to stand up for themselves and to give a ‘voice’. Useful tips were given for audiences to consider of how they can be involved ranging from making a complaint, to contributing to group discussion, to campaigning on local/ national level. The essential of the evening is to educate people of their basic human rights and that they should ‘fight for their rights’ and not to allow such oppression/ discrimination to continue, impacting on the lives of many thousands and million of deaf/ hard of hearing people in UK, given the fact that 1 in 6 in UK population are deaf/ hard of hearing. Feedback from the audiences that they came away more inspired, empowered and energy to do something more to support the campaign for BSL Act and how to challenge discriminations that affect the daily lives of many deaf/ hard of hearing people.
All speakers were presented with a framed certificate of thanks each, by Honorary Alderman Keith Toms, Chairman of Harrow Council and HADC Patrons John Purnell DL and Margaret Purnell.
Asif Iqbal MBE, President of Harrow Asian Deaf Club summed up the atmosphere of the evening: “It was a fantastic and powerful evening. Peter Tatchell is a great example how he stood up for his rights and the rights of many LGBT people and how he campaigned and raise awareness on barriers LGBT faced. He showed us the way that we can draw parallel to his experiences and some useful tips on standing up for your right. Sylvia continued with this theme by explaining about the campaign for BSL Act, a hot topic within the Deaf community at present. Both Tom and Geraldine showed us the tools of empowerment and power of influences for better changes, enabling us to consider our options of how we want to see things improved and how we contribute to those positive changes. Most importantly, everyone felt more empowered and assertive in standing up for their right, increased confidence to challenge and to ask the right questions. This was clearly evidenced by the numbers of interests and questions raised by our audiences to all four speakers and everyone were buzzing about the topic afterward!”
More information on ‘Fight for your Rights’ with fantastic speakers, Honorary Alderman Keith Toms, Chairman of Harrow Council Peter Tatchell, Sylvia Simmonds, Tom Lichy and Geraldine O’Halloran can be found on the following articles: