DA calls for comment on Assistance Animal Access Bill

Issued by Wendy Alexander MP – DA Additional Member on the Standing Committee on Finance
18 Jun 2023 in News

On 15 June 2023, the DA published its notice of intention to introduce the Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill, 2023. The Bill seeks to ensure access for licensed assistance animals to private or public places. A copy of the gazette notice can be found HERE.

It is an increasing occurrence for people with disabilities who use assistance animals to be turned away from public and private spaces as well as from accessing public transport. In the Equality Court judgment of SA Guide-Dog Association for the Blind and Amanda Bester v The Department of Home Affairs and the Western Cape Department of Home Affairs, the Court held that the denial of access to the applicant, Amanda Bester and her assistance animal, Reo, to the premises and offices of the Department of Home Affairs, amounted to unfair discrimination.

There is currently a lack of legislation preventing assistance animals and their owners from being turned away from private and public areas, buildings and transport.

The DA will therefore be introducing legislation to protect persons with disabilities from being denied entry to public and private areas based only on being accompanied by their licenced assistance animal. The licencing system will provide persons with tangible proof of their right to enter or access any public or private area, building, facility or transport with their assistance animal. Any person who denies a licensee access to these places will be committing an offence and be liable to a fine or imprisonment.

The DA calls on all interested parties and civil organisations to provide their comments and suggestions on the intentions of the Bill. Kindly submit all comments by email, to the Speaker of the National Assembly at speaker@parliament.gov.za and to  legislation@da.org.za. A copy of the Bill will be made available upon request.

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