The photo shows Jos Huys as second from the left, behind the podium in the European Parliament, during Freedom Drive 2022

With pain in my heart, I am obliged to announce the passing away of our colleague JOS HUYS (1954 – 2024), on 28 June.

Jos was one of the core founders of the independent living movement in Flanders. Without travelling far away, without being inspired by others, he had his own vision of how he wanted to live independently, with choice and control over his own life. He knew as young person that disabled people are the best placed to speak about themselves and to defend their own rights.

He became a lawyer not only to fight discrimination, but he was convinced of the importance of equal rights and equal opportunities, respecting each other’s diversity. When you were speaking with him, it was amazing how in a fraction of a second he could come up with so many scenarios, asking questions about what if this, what if that from the legal perspective.

He was also adamant that as long as the right to support was not embedded in law, we will need to continue to beg for our human rights. When he saw us struggling with convincing politicians and lobbying all the time, he was shaking his head and telling us: “ the law needs to be changed”.

He was not an open book about his private life, When once he was showing me pictures of Independent Living meetings in the 70s and 80s, I joked and told him: “Wow Jos, you were looking very trendy and fancy at the time”. Without too much emotion on his face, he answered:” No, we were thinking very fancy and progressive at that time and the young people were very open minded. Very much in solidarity and convinced of our battle to live as a community for all!”. Then he went out for a cigarette.

As you will read in GRIP’s announcement: he was at the centre of the personal assistant budget legislation and many other cases in court that he and we won. The last one was concerning 1,000 budgets which were doubled and 2,000 people who saw the austerity measure being refunded!

He was the guy behind the spotlight, behind the curtains, very modest. But what a treasure of wisdom, knowledge and right vision he had and what big changes he made happen. It is important to honour him,  and definitely remember him for eternity for the great job he has done.

Nadia Hadad, ENIL Co-Chair

You can read the tribute to Jos Huys published by GRIP and the translation into English:

We are very sorry to report that on Friday 28 June, Jos Huys passed away in hospital in Leuven.

Jos was one of the founding fathers of Independent Living Flanders, the human rights movement of people with disabilities that initiated the struggle in Flanders for equal rights and equal opportunities. Until the day of his death, Jos did enormous work to achieve change for people with disabilities. In doing so, he also made extremely meaningful contributions within GRIP for many years. He carried GRIP in his heart.

Jos combined strong legal knowledge with a tenacious personality and down-to-earth outlook. Fighting for equal rights is not always easy. Jos did not get discouraged and showed others what steps forward had been made after all, inspired people to keep thinking critically ahead. The achievements in which he played a crucial role are numerous:

  • the decree and decision on the personal assistance budget (PAB) that allowed people to have a personal assistance budget in their own hands
  • a proper mention of persons with disabilities in our Constitution
  • signalling the violation of the standstill principle when thousands of people on the waiting list had their personal assistance budget reduced

We are all heartbroken. We wish his family lots of strength, and are enormously grateful for all the years of intensive cooperation with Jos. We are going to miss Jos very much.

You can read the obituary here. Jos’ funeral will be on Friday at noon in Leuven.

People from the entire GRIP family, both staff and volunteers, will certainly attend. Condolences or flowers can be ordered via this link