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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

02 NOV 2014

Is childhood a 'disability'? Exploring the exclusion of children from age discrimination provisions in the Equality Act 2010 [2014] CFLQ 421

Keywords: Age - discrimination - disability - equality - children - childhood

The Equality Act 2010 was enacted with the aim of simplifying existing equality legislation and included extending age discrimination protection beyond the workplace to cover the provision of goods, facilities and services. Under-18s, however, were omitted from such provisions, despite lobbying from a number of different organisations and parliamentarians. This article considers the significance of this exclusion. It both challenges the legitimacy of the decision to exclude children, and considers the difficulties that arise from including under-18s within age discrimination provisions, namely those relating to children's autonomy, capacity and right to equal treatment. In particular, it asks whether the question of children's capacity to make decisions, the main ground on which children are denied all the human rights enjoyed by adults, should be revisited in light of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under which a finding of incapacity on the basis of disability constitutes discrimination. It goes on to explore other areas of convergence between childhood and disability studies, and particularly the benefits, and shortcomings, of a 'social model' approach to childhood.

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