Disabled Greek policeman fights discrimination and is reinstated
A Greek police officer who was fired in 2009 due to a disability was reinstated into the force this week after launching a successful campaign to change the law.
Antonis Tsapatakis was considered by the Hellenic Police (ELAS) as incapable of carrying out his duties as a police officer. He was fired, along with 14 of his colleagues who were also disabled.
Tsapatakis, who is confined to a wheelchair, however, did not give up. He fought all these years to convince ELAS that the disability law was bad and discriminatory and he finally succeeded.
“I didn’t dare to dream”, says the disabled Greek policeman
“Have you ever done something you never imagined? Today I achieved something I never even dared to dream of,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
“In 2009, the ELAS health committee deemed me unable to continue my service in the force. Today I was promoted to officer after my victory at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“But I am very proud of the fact that I was able, thanks to the change in the law that I requested, to allow 14 other colleagues who had been fired for the same reason to be rehired,” Tsapatakis said.
Εγω σήμερα κατάφερα κάτι που δεν είχα τολμήσει καν να ονειρευτώ… pic.twitter.com/9MayQKAywc
— Antonis Tsapatakis (@ATsapatakis) March 17, 2022
“I hope those who voted for the original unjust bill will read these lines to realize that anything is possible, with will, faith, effort and love,” Tsapatakis notes.
As he mentions in his Instagram post, the Cretan policeman won a bronze medal in the 100 meter breaststroke swimming race at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games which took place in August-September 2021.
He also represented Greece at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games, where both times he finished fourth in the same event.
Greece and disability
But there is still a lot of work to be done for people with disabilities, even though the government had set a 2020 deadline for all public buildings to be accessible to people with disabilities, including ramps, guardrails, lifts and public toilets. This has not been done.