New legislation will overturn “outdated laws” that discriminate against people with mental illness

Mental health charities have said that the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill, which will pass into law after completing its parliamentary stages this week, will “put an end to archaic laws” which interfere with the rights of people with mental illness to participate in public life.

As well removing the blanket ban on “mentally disordered persons” undertaking jury service and regulations whichstate that a person might cease to be a director of a public or private company “by reason of their mental health”, the Bill will also repeal section 141 of the Mental Health Act 1983, under which a Member of the House of Commons, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament or Northern Ireland Assembly automatically loses their seat if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for more than six months.

Paul Jenkins, CEO of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “We are delighted that this Bill has passed through Parliament. It’s absurd that millions of capable, intelligent people have been excluded until now from key aspects of citizenship, simply because they have a mental illness. People with physical illnesses such as cancer would never be treated in this way.

“This Bill makes it clear that people with mental health illness can and should be able to contribute to society on an equal footing to everyone else.”

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