English Translation: Iran’s “Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled”
For the first time, the complete text of Iran’s “Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled” is available in English. A translation of the Persian-language law by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) is accessible below this introduction.
Ratified by the Iranian Parliament in March 2018 and published in May of that year, the law remained unenforced as of December 2019.
Replacing the Comprehensive Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled (Iran’s only legislation dedicated to the rights of people with disabilities), this law was created to assist and support people with disabilities by enabling their access to crucial services. However, its charity-based approach incorrectly views the rights of people with disabilities as distinct from human rights and at times uses discriminatory, harmful language to describe people with disabilities including “disabled” and “incapable.”
For all its flaws, the new law does attempt to address major shortcomings in the previous legislation. For example, many people with disabilities in Iran struggle to access services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychiatric therapy because state and private insurance providers do not cover them. To alleviate this problem, Article 6 requires the Health Ministry to cover those services for registrants under the State Welfare Organization’s care.
That said, the government of President Hassan Rouhani had unlawfully not taken measures to implement and enforce the law 19 months after it was approved by Parliament, according to disability rights activists in the country. Based on Article 2 of the Civil Code, “Legislative enactments come into force throughout the country fifteen days after their publication.”
To mark the anniversary of its publication, a group of people with disabilities gathered in front of the Health Ministry in Tehran in May 2019 and chanted slogans including “the law for the disabled must be enforced” and “rehabilitation insurance is our inviolable right” while demanding better healthcare services.
The complete text of the law in Persian is available here. Following is CHRI’s translation.
Source: the Official Gazette of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Special Issue No. 1040
Publication Date: Thursday, 3 May 2018
Year 74, No. 21303
Approval Authority: Islamic Consultative Assembly
Adoption Date: 11 March 2018
Act No. 31/5726
Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled
Chapter 1, General Provisions
Article 1- Definitions
A- Person with Disability: A person who, with the approval of the State Welfare Organization’s Medical and Rehabilitation Commission for Determining the Type and Degree of Disability, faces significant and consistent limitations and difficulties in his/her daily life and social contributions due to physical, sensory (sight and/or hearing), intellectual, psychological or multiple disorders and impairments.
B- The Ministry: The Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare
C- SWO: State Welfare Organization
D- Subject Organizations: Executive organizations which are subject to Article 5 of the Law to Manage National Services, enacted on 09/30/2007, and its subsequent amendments and additions, the Judiciary Branch, Legislative Branch, Expediency Discernment Council, the Guardian Council, and their dependent institutions and organizations, municipalities, and all governmental organizations and companies or those that fully or partially use public budgets.
E- Accessibility: Includes any action aiming at creating an accessible environment free of obstacles for the participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life and providing equal opportunities for them in order to enjoy social life on an equal basis with others. Accessibility includes the transportation system, physical environments, informational, educational, and technological spaces, employment, and suitable communication and media resources.
F- National Network of Disabled People Organizations: Describes national networks that consist of NGOs for people with disabilities in major categories (visual, hearing, physical, intellectual, and psychoneurotic disabilities) which are to be established with the purpose of coordinating and integrating the activities of member organizations and creating a uniform national voice.
Chapter 2- Ensuring Accessibility, Navigation and Mobility
Article 2- All ministries, and public and revolutionary state organizations, institutions and companies are required, to design, produce and construct public facilities and buildings, roads and services in a way to ensure accessibility and use for people with disabilities on an equal basis with others.
Note- All ministries, and public and revolutionary state organizations, institutions and companies are required, within the framework of their approved annual budget, to make existing public facilities and buildings, including recreational and sport facilities, roads and services accessible to people with disabilities.
Article 3- In order to monitor and coordinate activities related to accessibility and also to monitor the implementation of Article 2 of this Law, the National Headquarters to Coordinate and Follow-Up on Accessibility is established with the following composition:
- The Ministry of Interior or relevant deputy (to serve as head);
- Director of SWO (to serve as the Secretary-General)
- Relevant deputy from the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development
- Relevant deputy from the Ministry of Industry, Mine and Trade
- Relevant deputy from the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology
- Relevant deputy from the Ministry of Education
- Relevant deputy from the National Planning and Budgetary Organization
- Relevant deputy from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (As observer without voting rights)
- Relevant deputy from the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs
- Delegate from non-governmental veteran associations (As observer without voting rights)
- Delegate from National Networks of NGOs for the Disabled (As observer without voting rights)
- Head of the High Council of Provinces (As observer without voting rights)
- Delegate from other state organizations as invited by the Head of Accessibility Headquarters
Note 1- The Headquarters is mandated to monitor the activities of the public bodies and organizations listed in Article 2 of this Law regarding accessibility of public facilities and buildings, and to request those organizations to provide reports on their activities in this regard.
Note 2- The executive regulations of this article will be drafted by the SWO with contributions from the ministries of Interior, Roads and Urban Development, and National Planning and Budgetary Organization, and be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers within six months after the ratification of this law [meaning its publication and announcement by the president.]
Article 4- The municipalities are required to render the issuance of any construction, completion and renovation permits for all public buildings and facilities including residential, administrative, business, medical and educational facilities, subject to observance of the accessibility standards and criteria adopted by Iran’s High Council of Urban Development and Architecture and its subsequent amendments.
Article 5- The Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development and the municipalities are required to ensure that all terminals, stations, urban and intra-city[within and outside of the city] public transportation within their mandate are accessible for people with disabilities in accordance with domestic and international standards, so that they can enjoy ground, maritime, and air transportation. These bodies also must train their personnel in practical and appropriate ways to assist passengers with disabilities.
Note 1- All municipalities are required to establish transportation systems equipped with accessible vehicles in order to facilitate the navigation of people with severe disabilities. The government is required to assist under-resourced municipalities in this process.
Note 2- People with severe disabilities shall use governmental or public inter-city railroad and bus transportation systems free of charge, and the inter-city public or governmental railroad, air and maritime transportation system by paying half-price. The Ministry of Social Welfare must take action to ensure that resources required for implementation of this note is included in annual budget drafts, and the Planning and Budgetary Organization must allocate the budget required.
Note 3- Any [public official] violating this Article will be subjected to fifth to eighth degree fines as stated in Article 19 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, temporary or permanent exclusion from public service, demotion, or exclusion from appointments to sensitive or management positions, or dismissal from the organization or institution.
Chapter 3- Health Services, Medical Treatment, and Rehabilitation
Article 6- The Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education should ensure that health insurance offered to people with disabilities registered with the SWO covers medical treatment services they need, as well as mental and physical rehabilitation services.
Article 7- In order to provide care and support to people in need, who have serious or severe disabilities and people in need who have multiple disabilities within the family, the SWO will pay nursing or care-giving allowance to the parent, guardian or spouse of the person, after providing them with educational and counseling services. The SWO may also provide care services for people with disabilities through its own centers or by supporting [providing funds to] non-public centers including private organizations, cooperatives, charities and NGOs.
Note 1- The amount of the nursing or care-giving allowance will be determined based on the type and degree of disability, the number of family members with disabilities, the reasonable caregiving expenses of people with disabilities, and in accordance with the inflation rate. The amount of annual subsidies to be paid to non-governmental centers providing care services to people with disabilities will be determined based on the final cost of provided services and the annual inflation rate by the SWO and in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare, the High Council of private rehabilitation centers, and the National Planning and Budgetary Organization and then approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. The final cost must be paid as supportive funding to the relevant non-public centers.
Note 2- The services and allowance mentioned in this article also extend to disabled seniors.
Chapter 4- Recreational, Educational, Cultural, and Artistic Affairs
Article 8- Persons with disabilities may use recreational centers, facilities and services owned by the government, as well as municipalities and rural governors free of charge.
Article 9- After receiving a reference letter from the SWO, qualified people with disabilities in need can benefit from free higher education offered by educational institutions subject to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and other governmental organizations as well as the Islamic Azad University and other private higher education organizations, from the corresponding line in the annual fiscal budget.
Note- The executive regulations of this article will be drafted three months after the ratification of this law by the SWO, the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, the Ministry of Health and Medical Education, and the Islamic Azad University, and will be sent to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval.
Chapter 5- Entrepreneurship and Employment
Article 10- The Ministry of Social Welfare is required to establish the Fund to Support Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities, registered by the SWO, within its approved budget, and send the Statute of the Fund to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval three months after the communication of this law.
Note- Within the framework of the corresponding laws and regulations the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is required to provide the Ministry of Social Welfare with necessary licenses to establish the Fund to Support Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities.
Article 11- The government is required to adopt the measures below in order to create job opportunities for people with disabilities:
A- Providing loans based on the estimates in the annual fiscal budget for manufacturing, service and construction companies and corporations as well as supportive production workshops which employ people with disabilities.
B- Providing self-employment loans (managed funds) to people with disabilities to the extent provided in the annual fiscal budget law.
C- Providing loans for self-employment (managed funds) to establish production units and entrepreneurial services to companies and institutions whose more than 60% of stocks and capital belong to people with disabilities.
D- Allocating 30% of all phone operator positions in governmental organizations and companies and public institutions to blind people and people with visual impairments and physical disabilities.
E- Allocating 30% of all office management and typewriting positions in governmental organizations and companies and public institutions to people with physical disabilities.
Note- All ministries, and public and revolutionary state organizations, institutions and companies are allowed to employ qualified blind and deaf people and people with spinal cord injuries through employment exams specifically scheduled for the disabled community within the limits of their annual employment licenses.
Article 12- Private sector entrepreneurs who employ people with disabilities seeking work will enjoy an allowance for the disabled’s performance improvement for the duration of the employment if they fulfill the conditions below:
- The duration of the employment contract between the employer and the person with disabilities is at least one year.
- The employed person with disability receives the salary and wage provided by the High Council on Labor and in accordance with related laws and regulations.
- Other legal benefits provided in the Labor Law (worker benefits) are given to the person with disability.
Note 1- “People with disabilities seeking work” in this law means anyone with disabilities who is capable of work and has obtained the necessary skills and training for employment.
Note 2- “Allowance for performance improvement of the disabled” here means the monthly payment of up to 50% of the minimum wage adopted by High Council on Labor for the working person with disabilities based on the degree of disability (mild 30%, medium 40%, and severe 50%), which will be allocated by the National Planning and Budgetary Organization in the annual fiscal budget law.
Note 3- The allowance for performance improvement of the disabled is payable up to five years for each working person with disabilities employed by the private sector.
Note 4- The allocation and payment of the “allowance for performance improvement of the disabled” to the non-governmental section and entrepreneurs will be according to the regulations which will be prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare with the SWO and sent to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval within three months after the communication of the law.
Article 13- Entrepreneurs who employ people with disabilities in their workplaces in accordance with Article 12 of this law are exempt from paying the employer insurance contributions for those employees. Additionally, self-employed people with disabilities or those working for home-based workshops and employment support centers are exempt from employer insurance fee contributions. The employer insurance fee contributions of these people will be allocated and paid by the government.
Note- The executive regulation for this Article will be drafted by the SWO, the Ministry of Social Welfare and in collaboration with the National Planning and Budgetary Organization and sent to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval within three months after the communication of this law.
Article 14- The national Technical and Vocational Training Organization is required to, whether independently or with contributions from the non-governmental sector, admit apprentices with disabilities and to improve the vocational and technical skills of people with disabilities by making existing training centers accessible and/or establishing new training centers, and to provide necessary support and professional training equipment adequate for the situation of the apprentices with disabilities, including financial support.
In order to ensure the desired quality and efficiency in the vocational and technical training of people with disabilities, the national Technical and Vocational Training Organization is also required to codify the standards and comprehensive regulations for providing technical and vocational training to people with disabilities within six months [after the ratification of this law], with professional advice from the SWO and Special Education Organization, and communicate those standards to the centers mentioned in this Article.
Article 15- With the exception of Article 11 paragraphs D and E, the government is required to allocate at least 3% of employment licenses (official, contract- or labor-based) of all governmental and public entities such as ministries, organizations, institutions and public and revolutionary institutes and other establishments that use the national public budget to people with disabilities.
Note 1- Ministries, organizations, governmental institutions, public and revolutionary companies and establishments are required to allocate 3% of their employment licenses to people with disabilities except for those listed in Paragraph D and E of Article 11 of this law. The National Administrative and Employment Organization is required to take action on the allocation of this quota and monitor its implementation.
Note 2- The highest officials in executive organizations, public and private institutions, municipalities, and banks are required to implement this article attentively. Any [public official] violating this Article will be subject to fifth to eighth degree fines as stated in Article 19 of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code, temporary or permanent exclusion from public service, demotion, or exclusion from appointment to sensitive or management positions, or dismissal from the organization or institution.
Article 16- Heads of the Welfare Organization’s Provincial Offices are required to participate as members in meetings of the Provincial Planning and Development Councils and their working groups.
Note- In order to support the employment of people with disabilities and [SWO] members, the Head of the SWO is permitted to participate in the meetings of the Supreme Council on Employment.
Chapter 6- Housing
Article 17- The Ministry of Roads and Urban Development and other relevant organizations must ensure and monitor that upon enjoying low-interest loans and other supportive measures, the housing industry including mass-producers and the cooperative and private sectors allocate at least 10% of high-quality and accessible constructed residential units to people with disabilities without housing with affordable prices and with the introduction of SWO (priority should be given to couples with disabilities and families with multiple disabled members).
Note 1- The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is required to allocate, for once, affordable credit facilities with preferential and long-term interest for housing to people with disabilities under the coverage of the SWO or cooperatives or charity organizations approved by the SWO.
Note 2- The required credit for paying the difference between the 4% interest rate provided in this Article and the annual interest rate approved by the banking system will be allocated in the annual fiscal budget.
Article 18- The National Organization of Land and Housing must provide the required land for the construction of residential units for people with disabilities who lack housing in the form of long-term, 9-year-long rentals to people with disabilities or house-building cooperatives and charity organizations approved by the SWO. [This should remain limited to] one contract per person.
Article 19- People with disabilities are exempt from paying regular construction license fees, land preparation fees, renovation tolls, as well as water, electricity, gas and sewage disposal establishments provided for in the approved housing model.
Note 1- Each person with disability may benefit from the exemptions provided in this Article only for one housing unit.
Note 2- The government is required to estimate the resources needed for the implementation of this Article in the annual fiscal budget.
Chapter 7- Cultural Improvement and Public Awareness Raising
Article 20- The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, the Islamic Development Organization, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting organization, municipalities, and other organizations and institutions with movie theatres are required to provide, free of charge, showings of educational videos approved by the SWO about the rights of people with disabilities and how to interact with them.
Article 21- The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting organization is required to dedicate at least five hours per week to programs prepared by the SWO and NGOs supporting the rights of people with disabilities, free of charge and with appropriate timing, in order to raise awareness among the public about the rights, capabilities, and issues of people with disabilities. [The IRIB is also required] to provide subtitles for their movies and various programs, the usage of sign language interpreters, and audio descriptions of movies for blind people.
Chapter 8- Judicial Support and Tax Accommodations
Article 22- Courts are required to seek the relevant SWO office’s opinion for appointing a guardian for people with disabilities who need to be under guardianship. In cases where there is no qualified person for guardianship or if the qualified person does not accept the responsibility, the court must designate the SWO as the guardian.
Article 23- In cases where the right of a person with disability is violated or is claimed to be violated due to his disability, the SWO can appear in court as the representative of the victim upon request of the person with disability or his guardian (if the person has a guardian), provided that the SWO finds the claim eligible.
Article 24- 100% of the expenses made by real or legal persons for building, equipping, and making accessible, and developing all rehabilitation centers for the care, vocational training, education, entrepreneurship, welfare, and housing of people with disabilities will be considered as tax deductible costs with approval of the SWO.
Article 25- 50% of taxable salaries, benefits or wages of one parent of each person with severe or very severe disabilities is exempt from taxes, as long as disability-related expenses are covered by the parents. The certificate approving the type and degree of disability of people mentioned in this article will be issued by the SWO’s Medical Commission for the Diagnosis of the Type and Degree of Disabilities.
Note- The executive regulations of this article will be drafted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance and the Ministry of Social Welfare within six months after the communication of this law to be approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Article 26- In cases where parents (whether one parent or both) are themselves incapable and disabled, or in cases where at least two of the children are incapable and disabled, one child is exempt from military duty.
Note- Spouses who are the guardians of their incapable and disabled wives are exempt from military duty, as long as they remain the guardian of the disabled and incapable spouse.
Chapter 9- Livelihood and Administrative and Employment Support
Article 27- The government is required to allocate financial aid for the livelihood of people with severe and very severe disabilities without jobs or incomes, equal to the annual minimum wage, and allocate required resources for this purpose in the national annual fiscal budget.
Working women with disabled spouses or children, under the condition that the person with disabilities is being cared for at home (as approved by the SWO), will enjoy the accommodations provided in the law on women’s part-time employment approved on December 1, 1983, and its subsequent amendments, with full salaries and benefits.
Employed men with disabled spouses or with motherless disabled children under their guardianship will enjoy full salaries and benefits with a one-fourth reduction in weekly work hours under the circumstance that the person with disabilities is cared for at home (as approved by the SWO).
Article 28- Subject organizations are required to reduce the weekly work hours of employed people with severe or very severe disability by 10 hours.
Chapter 10- Planning, Monitoring and Financial Resources
Article 29- The Iranian Statistics Center is required to plan its public national census in a manner that determines the population of people with disabilities based on the type of disability.
Article 30- With the purpose of [achieving] transparency with regards to the country’s financial resources allocated for the implementation of this law and for supporting people with disabilities, the National Planning and Budgetary Organization is required to proceed to introduce a separate budget line under the social welfare section in the annual fiscal budget based on the chapter titles of this law.
Article 31- In order to realize the provisions of this law and with the ultimate goal of rendering high-quality monitoring on the implementation of all laws concerning or affecting people with disabilities, the Committee for the Coordination and Monitoring on the implementation of this law will be established with the below members, and under the auspices of the National High Council on Social Welfare:
- First Deputy of the President (serving as the head of the committee);
- Minister of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare (serving as the Secretary-general of the Committee);
- Head of the SWO;
- Minister of Roads and Urban Development;
- Minister of Education;
- Minister of Science, Research and Technology;
- Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education;
- Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade;
- Minister of Interior;
- Minister of Sport and Youth;
- Head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting;
- Head of National Planning and Budgetary Organization ;
- Head of National Administrative and Employment Organization;
- Plenipotentiary Representative of Head of the Judiciary;
- Head of the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs;
- Heads of the Health, Treatment, and Social Commissions of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and other heads of parliamentary commissions based on the subject (as observer and without voting rights);
- Five representatives of people with disabilities selected by national networks of NGOs and according to the major groups of disabilities (as observer and without voting rights);
- Three outstanding experts on the issues of people with disabilities with the introduction of the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare (as observer and without voting rights);
- A representative of trade unions of private rehabilitation centers (as observer and without voting rights).
Note 1- Other invited ministers and authorities will participate in this committee depending on the agenda of the committee.
Note 2- The secretariat of this committee will be based at the SWO.
Note 3- This committee is required to receive and examine the report of accomplishments from implementing bodies on an annual basis. Upon approval by the National High Council on Social Welfare, the reports will be sent to Parliament through the government. Within one month after the examination and approval of the report, The Social, Health and Treatment, and Judicial commissions are required to read a summary of the report in an open session of Parliament and publish its results to inform the public.
Article 32- All organizations subject to this law must send annual reports regarding the implementation of this law and the law that ratified the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities on December 8, 2008, to the Coordination and Monitoring Committee.
Article 33- The Comprehensive Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled, passed on May 5, 2004, will be revoked on the implementation date of this law.
Article 34- The regulations required by this law will be prepared by the SWO, the Ministry of Social Welfare and other relevant bodies, and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers within six months after the implementation of this law unless another timeline is specifically provided in this law.
Note- Until the regulations of this law are approved, the regulations of the Comprehensive Law to Protect the Rights of the Disabled will remain in force, unless they are contrary to the content of this law.