Recently, the NASW urged social worker workforce to strengthen the protection of the rights and freedoms of people engaged in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships. The association claimed its firm belief in the equity of LGBT people in access and enjoyment of the rights and responsibilities legally granted to heterosexual couples. The agency appreciated the ongoing policy efforts to expand federal protections given to married couples to same-sex couples. Social work is at the forefront of building and maintaining a democratic state since it accounts for embedding democratic principles and liberties into the social culture and practice. When applied to the LGBT case, social work is a legitimate and authoritative public service to promote respect for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people as well as the recognition and protection of their rights. From this stance, social work is a state instrument for strengthening social integrity and coherence in access to and utilization of federal responsibilities and protections.
The NASW appeal is consistent with the United Nations Address on Global LGBT Rights made by Hilary Clinton in 2011. The then Secretary of State approached the issue through the prism of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Clinton (2011) stressed that the human rights framework presupposes that all people “are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (para. 3), which leaves no room for discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping based on the LGBT status. In her speech, Clinton (2011) highlighted that the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights obliges a state with the responsibility to recognize, overseas, and protect equal access to and enjoyment of fundamental rights and liberties. However, as Clinton (2011) pointed out, many states violate this mandate and neglect fulfilling their legal responsibilities when it comes to LGBT issues and members of the LGBT community. The position of the United Nations Address is reasonable, logic, and consistent in the context of human rights. This international body has been at the roots of the global movement towards democratic state-building and is a credible source of knowledge and direction set to individuals, groups, and states.
While policymakers develop rules and laws that outline the legal rights, social work is to promote the implementation and compliance with these laws. In other words, social work plays a critical role in addressing the diversity of sexual orientation and safeguarding the rights of marginalized populations across the globe. The responsibility of social workers is to provide dedicated and robust advocacy of LGBT people’s rights and freedoms to meet their needs, eliminate the continuous discrimination, and improve their quality of life. Indeed, homosexualism and heterosexualism ate social concepts, whereas LGBT-related discrimination and prejudice are social movements. Members of the LGBT community share the same physical and physiological characteristics as individuals attracted to people of different sex. Sexual orientation and preferences do not disable them to exercise their legal rights and responsibilities. Indeed, the LGBT status does not free from obligations and punishment measures prescribed for law violations but discriminates the rights of LGBT individuals. In this respect, social workers should promulgate the LGBT issues and raise the public awareness of and concern for the inequality.
The NASW equips social workers with plenty of strategies, methods, and tools to make the address of the LGBT people’s rights effective. The agency recommends social workers to exploit the opportunities of education to promote the public understanding and recognition of the LGBT issues. Schools, churches, and other public sites are excellent places for conducting educational interventions to address various aspects of gender identities. Since social work involves building partnerships with the community, education is a useful tool for fulfilling the responsibility.
- Clinton, H. (2011, June 12). Hillary Clinton on gay rights abroad: Secretary of State delivers historic LGBT speech in Geneva. Huffpost. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/
- NASW. (2018). LGBT practice tools. Retrieved from https://www.socialworkers.org/