The UN expert who told the government that its cuts to disabled people’s support had caused a “human catastrophe” is to visit the UK this autumn to deliver a high-profile lecture on disability rights.
Theresia Degener, the professor of law and disability studies who chairs the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities, will deliver the first Caroline Gooding Memorial Lecture at the University of Leeds in October.
Last August, Degener told the UK government’s delegation – during a public examination of its progress on implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) – that its cuts to social security and other support for disabled people had caused “a human catastrophe” which was “totally neglecting the vulnerable situation people with disabilities find themselves in”.
She later gave an interview with the BBC – which was not broadcast – in which she warned that the portrayal of disabled people by the UK government and media as “parasites” who live on benefits could put them at risk of violence, and even “killings and euthanasia”.
The annual lecture was set up as a memorial to the equality consultant and author Caroline Gooding, who played a leading role in securing improvements to disability rights legislation as a member of the Disability Rights Taskforce.
Gooding was later director of legislative change at the Disability Rights Commission throughout its eight years. She died in July 2014.