Forty-three Down’s syndrome and learning-disability groups, including the Down’s syndrome Association and Mencap, have this weekend published an open letter calling on Amazon to take steps to halt, once and for all, the sale of t-shirts on their platform which carry messages, such as “Let’s make Down syndrome extinct”, referring to this as hate crime. 

The letter says: 

Dear Amazon,

As you are aware, many people from the Down’s syndrome Community have contacted Amazon repeatedly to remove offensive products inciting Hate speech against people who have Down’s syndrome, which is also against the UN declaration of human rights. Thank you for removing the products after receiving our complaints.

What we would like now is for you to find a way to stop these items being listed for sale on any Amazon platforms, and destroy any stock you may hold of these items for Prime delivery. Hate crime is a serious issue and is on the rise against people with Learning disabilities. We want to see companies who sell items on Amazon that incite hate speech against any minorities banned from ever selling on Amazon again.

We hope to see Amazon helping the Down’s syndrome community stand against hate crime. We would like to work with you on this and sincerely hope we hear from you soon regarding the matter of tightening up your policies, banning sellers who post these items and most importantly stopping them ever getting to the point of sale again. Thank you in advance for your support.

Last week, Cristina Bowman of the Diff-Ability Cumbrian Community group organised a petition to alert Amazon to the problem which has already amassed almost 60,000 signatures.

Since then, the petition has received newspaper, TV and radio media attention. Heidi Carter, a prolific Down’s syndrome activist, was asked by the BBC how she felt about the t-shirts with the offending messages and said: “I would say that I feel very offended and very upset and when I first found out I was nearly crying my eyes out.”

Now, people like her and their supporters have been campaigning because they believe that it’s only right that as well as being responsive to complaints, Amazon has to take preventative action.  

The open letter to Amazon, calls on the commercial giant to take action to recognise that diversity should extend to those with a learning disability, ensuring that they are respected as a part of an inclusive society. To include this group in the Amazon discrimination policy would go some way to addressing that problem.

Lynn Murray of Don’t Screen Us Out said:

“Our supporters, people with Down’s syndrome and their families, have been offended by the ongoing availability of t-shirts calling for people with Down’s syndrome effectively to be screened-out of society.

“Nevertheless, we’ve been blown away by the support from the public and the media.

“My own daughter Rachel calls these t-shirts ‘nasty’.

“We understand that not everyone realises that people with Down’s syndrome and their families are happy with their lives. This community is trying to shake off an old stereotype that Down’s syndrome screening programmes have failed to tackle.

“If Amazon were to change their discrimination policy to include protection for people with disabilities this would go some way to help improve the profile of this minority group. We are also calling on Amazon to make a guarantee to our community that they will ensure that they will never sell any product in the future that discriminates against our community.”

Further information:

Open Letter Petition

Heidi Carter BBC interview

Image credit: Diff-Ability

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