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Missing Consensus: Arguments for and Against Deinstitutionalization
  • By Jo Ah-bin, cub-reporter
  • 승인 2023.05.15 09:09
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▲ Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination and Parents Organization of Disabled Living Facility Users are holding a protest in contradictory positions (Source: The Hankyoreh, Newsis)

On April 25, Gyeonggido Assembly pre- announced, "Gyeonggido Disabled Deinstitutionalization Support Ordinance," proposed by Congressman Yoo Ho- jun. 'Deinstitutionalization,' means that a disabled person who has lived in a residential facility for the disabled, leaves the facility and lives in a community. The main point of this ordinance is to support public rental housing, self- reliance settlement funds, activity support pay, public jobs, and disability allowances for the purpose of allowing persons with disabilities to choose and decide their own lives outside of residential facilities, to determine selections, and become self- reliant. Meanwhile, the pros and cons of the ordinance are also a popular discussion. In the, 'Write an Opinion,' section of the Gyeonggido Assembly website, various pros and cons were raised, and there is also a debate among disability- related organizations.

Korea Organization, For Parents of The Disabled, are demanding the withdrawal of the ordinance, saying it isn't appropriate for real life situations, while disability organizations are strongly demanding the enactment of policies to support the deinstitutionalization. Based on May 3, more than 5,000 opinions have been written on the Gyeonggido Assembly website for the, 'Gyeonggido Disabled Deinstitutionalization Support Ordinance.' Those who support the deinstitutionalization ordinance said, "I hope that specific measures such as providing independent housing for the disabled will be implemented as soon as possible," and, "I support the deinstitutionalization support ordinance." On the other hand, the opposing side said, "If they were able to live independently, they would not have been sent to the facility. Protectors also have limitations," and, "There are many disabled people waiting to enter the facility. On the contrary, we need to increase the number of facilities."

Among disability- related organizations, there is also a split in positions and collective actions over the ordinance. On April 25, 100 members of Gyeonggido Federation of Centers for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities gathered in front of the main gate of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government Building, and more than 400 members of the joint struggle group, including Gyeonggido Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination, gathered in front of the Gyeonggi Provincial Government Building Gate 2 and 3 to demand the establishment of a deinstitutionalization policy in Gyeonggi Province. On this day, the Gyeonggido Solidarity Against Disability Discrimination held a resolution conference of the Gyeonggi 420 Joint Struggle Group for the Elimination of Discrimination against Disabilities and said, "We strongly urge the Gyeonggido Assembly and Gyeonggido to enact ordinances to ensure that individuals with disabilities can lead independent lives 24 hours a day in the community."

Meanwhile, on April 24, the Parents Organization of Disabled Living Facility Users held a press conference and confronted Assemblyman Yoo, to argue for the ordinance to be scrapped. They argued that, "what disabled people need is not deinstitutionalization in the sense of escaping from the facility, but to change the housing welfare of the disabled, by improving the environment of the facility where they currently live," and that, "it is a serious mistake to make a bill on the premise that 98.3% of the users of the facility are severely developmentally disabled, and that they can be turned into self- reliant people if they come out of the facility."

In response to the ongoing controversy, Assemblyman Yoo revised some clauses of the ordinance and announced the legislation again. Compromising the proposed ordinance with the pros and cons requires a careful and individualistic approach according to the type and degree of the disability, with the need to provide people with disabilities with the, 'right to choose.'

By Jo Ah-bin, cub-reporter  opal_40@naver.com

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