NASW Raises Concerns about Anti-Homosexuality Bill in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda

For Immediate Release April 9, 2010

WASHINGTON—The National Association of Social Workers (NASW-USA) is obligated by our ethical code to raise concerns about the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” that now stands before the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda. At stake are the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens of Uganda. NASW-USA has been joined by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW), in calling upon the Ugandan Parliament to reject this detrimental bill.

The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” in the Ugandan Parliament could set a serious precedent for other countries—allowing extreme penalties of death and life in prison, and punishable offenses for a broad range of individuals if they fail to report suspected homosexuality to the authorities. The measure violates fundamental human rights and hinders effective public health responses to HIV and AIDS.

“Human rights are universal, regardless of sexual orientation,” said James J. Kelly, PhD, ACSW, NASW’s president. “Criminal penalties against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity violate basic human rights, demean human dignity, and also undermine efforts to limit the spread of HIV.”

Research shows that a person who feels forced to conceal his or her sexual orientation is less likely to seek assistance with HIV prevention, or to seek medical care for complications from HIV infection. As a result, statistics on HIV infection rates are inaccurate, further hurting efforts by health care personnel to stem the spread of the virus.

NASW-USA believes that people with same-gender sexual orientation should be afforded the same respect and rights as those with other-gender orientation. Discrimination and prejudice directed against any group is damaging to the social, emotional and economic well-being of both the affected group and of society as a whole. This holds true for Ugandan society as well as any other.

Challenging social injustice and affirming the dignity and worth of the human person are core principles of the social work profession. Social workers pursue social justice, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people, including the LGBT community. NASW-USA in honoring the critical importance of human rights asks the Ugandan government to reject this life-limiting legislation.