“Too happy”: France’s censorship of award- winning World Down Syndrome Day video to be challenged in European Court of Human Rights

By Catia Malaquias

France’s Conseil D’Etat has upheld the decision of France’s television regulator to censor the video “Dear Future Mom” and stop it from being shown on French television.  The viral video, which was made in collaboration between Italy’s CoorDown and global communications company Saatchi & Saatchi was created for an international campaign for World Down Syndrome Day in 2014 and has been watched on youtube alone 7.2 million times.  The many international awards for the video ironically include 6 Lions at the 2014 French Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

A French Down syndrome organisation, Fondation Jerome Lejeune, which brought the action against France’s television regulator and was a partner in the video campaign has said in a media release that the decision to ban the video from French television was taken after two complaints were received from women who had terminated their pregnancies after being told their babies had Down syndrome.  It is reported that the women found the video confronting as the people with Down syndrome in the video were ‘too happy’.   This is again ironic as one of the main purposes of the video, which was based on an actual email received by CoorDown from a woman who had just found out she was carrying a child with Down syndrome, was to challenge outdated stereotypes associated with Down syndrome – to show that people with Down syndrome today can lead meaningful and happy lives.

The video is framed as a response by people with Down syndrome, to the question posed by the pregnant woman: “I’m scared. What kind of life will my child have?” and its message is fundamentally an expression of the universal rights of every person, and in this case specifically people with Down syndrome, to happiness, to family love and to full participation – to an education and to work, to make life choices and to fulfil individual potential particularly in the face of outdated stereotypes and  low expectations for people with Down syndrome that have underpinned the denial of rights and opportunities.

The expression of love, happiness and the fulfilment of individual potential by any part of society should never be banned.  That is the essence of society embracing inclusion and valuing human diversity – the themes underpinning the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Fondation Jerome Lejeune organisation has announced its intention to bring the matter to the European Court of Human Rights to “defend the expression of the happiness of people Down syndrome without censorship”.

You can watch the video here:

French language media release by the Fondation Jerome Lejeune: “Décision du Conseil d’Etat : Cachez moi cet enfant trisomique heureux”