European Court’s ruling on obesity is not as idiotic as it may appear

Last week the headlines all reported that the European Court of Justice had made a ruling that obesity could be a disability and they all implied that here was another ruling by learned judges which contradicted common sense.

  1. Obesity IS a DISABILITY, rules highest EU court | Daily Mail
  2. European Court Rules That Obesity Could Be a Disability …
  3. Obesity can be a disability, EU court rules – The Guardian
  4. BBC News – Obesity ‘could be a disability’ – EU courts rule
  5. EU court rules that fatness ‘can constitute a disability’ – The …

That was my first reaction too.

But reading the ruling itself (ECJ press release) shows the logic followed by the Court. I have other objections to the whole concept of “equal rights” granted by a society (where equality is not subordinated to justice and where there are no corresponding duties), but there is no fault in the logic followed here:

  1. The EU directive on discrimination prohibits discrimination “based on religion, belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”.
  2. “The concept of ‘disability’ within the meaning of the directive must be understood as referring to a limitation which results in particular from long-term physical, mental or psychological impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation of the person concerned in professional life on an equal basis with other workers”.
  3. Disability does not specifically refer to obesity.
  4. “…. if, under given circumstances, the obesity of the worker entails a limitation which results in particular from physical, mental or psychological impairments
    which in interaction with various barriers may hinder the full and effective participation of that person in professional life on an equal basis with other workers, and the limitation is a long-term one, such obesity can fall within the concept of ‘disability’ within the meaning of the directive”.
  5. “It is for the national court to determine whether Mr Kaltoft’s obesity falls within the definition of  ‘disability’.”

If obesity causes impairment which is due to a long-term physical, mental or psychological impairment then – by the very definition of disability – it is a disability in the meaning of the discrimination directive. As it must be. In fact, the Court has just stated the obvious since any condition, whether labelled obesity or anything else, if due to long term physical, mental or psychological impairment is a disability.

The onus will be on an obese person – who wishes to be classified as being disabled – to show that the obesity is due to a long-term physical, mental or psychological impairment.

Perfectly rational and unobjectionable – given the definition of disability.

Tags: , ,


%d bloggers like this: