Today is five years to the day that BSL was finally acknowledged (although it’s down as being ‘recognised’ in the official statement I don’t buy it) by the UK governement.
Let me be clear. Deaf people should celebrate because it wouldn’t have happened without the action of people up and down the country: the marches, the demos, the direct action especially. Without that we’d have nothing to refer to, nothing to show for it. But sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to have publicly rejected the statement, and fought on, since let’s face it, it’s hardly done much to change anything? Plus we were still quite fired up into taking action, and this statement seems to have killed that off.
The other thing is, that the very next day this statement was announced, the UK joined the USA in it’s illegal invasion of Iraq. I recall watching the nightly news bulletins of ‘shock and awe’ bombs raining down on the beautiful and historical city of Baghdad. In that context it was very hard to celebrate the statement effectively, knowing people were being mercilessly killed in Iraq.
However, people did begin a mass movement to oppose the war and I attended demo’s in the UK calling to ‘Stop the War’; if we had rejected the statement we could have continued with the demoing, but it’s too late to reflect on ‘what if’s…’ now. Hopefully this will be a learning process; I certainly learnt a lot from it.
And here we are, five years on, yet another meeting has recently been held with government and organisations, which incidentally we still don’t know anything about, what happened at this meeting of the suits and our PM Gordon Brown?? All I have seen is the photograph of those who attended the meeting, and a brief outline of what was agreed. And also this is all taking place in the context of the HFE Bill, clause 14/4/9.
Is this the setting for a BSL Act finally being seriously considered? It would not be perfect, but would nevertheless be a step in the right direction. And if that does come to fruition, all fine and well, but I still feel that at some stage, the marching boots will be out again!