ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek disability groups expressed anger yesterday at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognised disability categories to include pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs.
The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action "incomprehensible," and said pedophiles are now awarded a higher government disability pay than some people who have received organ transplants.
The Labour Ministry said categories added to the expanded list — that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists — were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.
But NCDP leader Yiannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, warned the new list could create new difficulties for disabled Greeks who are already facing benefit cuts due to the country's financial crisis.
"What's happened is incomprehensible. I think there is some big mistake. The ministry should have a different policy on disability," Vardakastanis told the Associated Press. "The list contains major changes to disability quotients, which could effectively remove many people from access to benefits."
The new list gives pyromaniacs and pedophiles disability pay up to 35 per cent, compared to 80 per cent for heart transplant recipients.
"It's really not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20-30 per cent disability rate, and 10 per cent to diabetics, who have insulin shots four or five times a day," said Vardakastanis.
Greece has been fighting to avoid bankruptcy since 2009. Public spending on health and welfare programmes has been sharply cut under austerity measures imposed as a condition for receiving emergency loans from the International Monetary Fund and other countries using the euro currency.
Independently run welfare programs that survived on state grants have been the hardest hit, leaving some disabled groups, including the deaf, facing sudden drops in their standard of care.
The government is also battling widespread abuse in the welfare system, forcing tens of thousands of disabled people to be reassessed.