A company that used the online marketplace eBay to advertise a “vile” car bumper sticker that suggested disabled people were faking their impairments has been forced to apologise and withdraw it from sale.
The £2.50 sticker featured the traditional wheelchair symbol, alongside the words: “Not Really, Just Lazy.”
One disabled Twitter-user, @IanmAllan, tweeted: “That is disgusting and possibly illegal! It is hard enough being disabled without this.”
Another, Leon Carter, who tweets at @LeonC1963, said he had reported the sticker to eBay “as an item promoting hate crime”.
An examination of the company’s website shows other offensive bumper stickers, such as: “Built On Benefits”, “Kids Are For Life, Not For Benefits!” and “Support Mental Health or I’ll Kill You”.
Philip Connolly, policy and development manager for Disability Rights UK, said the company might think the “Not Really, Just Lazy” sticker was a joke, but it was “just storing up hatred”.
He said the sticker echoed the rhetoric that had come from some politicians and parts of the media that painted disabled benefit claimants as “fakes, frauds and scroungers”.
He said: “It definitely does, and it definitely comes out of a sense that disabled people are just fair game.
“You have to think that if the stickers were aimed at black people or women or gay people, there would be absolute outrage.”
But he added: “Disabled people have got feelings and organisations, and we are not going to sit by and let this happen.”
When Disability News Service contacted the family-run company that sold the stickers, a spokesman said there had been no intention to offend anyone.
Liam Searle, of Bournemouth-based South Coast Stickers, said the “Not Really, Just Lazy” product had been intended to criticise people who park in accessible parking bays when they are not disabled.
He added: “In no circumstances do we wish to promote hate crime, whether race or disability. There is absolutely no intention there to offend.
“Obviously you have brought this to my attention. We are certainly not a company that wishes to spread hate.”
Searle released a statement saying the company was “very sad to hear that one of our products has caused offence to some disabled individuals”.
He said: “It is never our intention to offend anybody with any of our products.
“When purchasing this particular design from our designer we felt the joke was more about [how]able-bodied people were using disabled parking bays rather than it being read that disabled people are lazy.
“Family members and friends of our company are disabled and have often found disabled parking bays occupied by able-bodied people.
“We are currently in discussions with a disabled racing team to be an official sponsor of their team and we hope this goes to show how much we are committed to raising awareness about all disabilities and not just wheelchair-users.
“We sincerely apologise if this has caused offence to anyone. We have now stopped selling this product and we are currently reviewing our entire product range to ensure that no more of our products can cause offence.”
When the other offensive stickers were pointed out to him later, he refused to comment further.