The LGBTQ community continues to experience incidences of prejudice and bias. Not only are these prejudices exemplified in interpersonal interactions through slurs and violent acts but also in the policies maintained in social work agencies and institutions. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court extended marriage rights to same-sex partners. Since this ruling, the federal government has extended all federal and military/veteran benefits to married same-sex couples. Despite this progress, states continue to debate laws and policies that would legalize forms of discrimination toward LGBTQ individuals. Advocacy organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign, provide policy maps showing the different rights provided in different states (see https://www.hrc.org/state-maps). Social workers are expected to fight to eliminate these inequalities throughout communities, programs, and institutions.
Around the world, members of the LGBTQ community continue to struggle for their rights. In some countries, they have made some progress. In 2016, 20 countries legally recognized marriage for same-sex couples (Human Rights Campaign, 2016). However, in other countries, the LGBTQ community faces much greater obstacles, and the consequences of fighting for basic rights are grave for both LGBTQ individuals and allies. Being gay is a crime punishable by death in 10 countries and is illegal in a total of 73 countries (Human Rights Campaign, 2016). Because of the violence and social exclusion experienced globally, LGBTQ individuals may seek refugee status because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression (UN High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR], 2016).
UN High Commissioner for Refugees. (2015). Protecting persons with diverse sexual orientations and gender identities: A global report on UNHCR’s efforts to protect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex asylum-seekers and refugees. Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/docid/566140454.html
To prepare: Consider the following statement:
NASW encourages the adoption of laws that recognize inheritance, insurance, same-sex marriage, child custody, property, and other rights in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships. The Association firmly believes that all federal protections and responsibilities available to legally married people in the United States should be available to people who enter same sex unions (including domestic partnerships, civil unions, and same sex marriages).
Then, read or view the United Nations Address on Global LGBT Rights by Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, H. (2011, December). Gay rights abroad. Speech delivered in recognition of International Human Rights Day, Geneva, Switzerland. Text posted with permission from the White House Office of Communications at https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/06/hillary-clinton-gay-rights-speech-geneva_n_1132392.html?ref=mostpopular
Submit a 2-3 page reaction to this statement of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Describe what you think is the role of social workers in equal rights and access to LGBTQ populations. Next provide a detailed explanation of your reaction to the United Nations Address on Global LGBT Rights. Then, explain why, in the context of practicing social work in North America, it is important for us to acknowledge and address sexual orientation and gender diversity of marginalized populations across the world. Explain the role of social workers on an international level in relation to the rights of the LGBTQ community. Identify specific skills and actions you would employ as an advocate.
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