International Federation of Social Workers denounce Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

In reaction to the statement put out last week from the National Association of Social Workers – Uganda, the International Federation of Social Worker has issued a response. The IFSW is the parent group of the Ugandan branch. Here is there response:

The proposals before the Ugandan Parliament concerning homosexuality and gay rights are a violation of international human rights conventions and should be withdrawn’, said Dr David N Jones, President of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), as he prepared for the annual United Nations Social Work Day in New York. He was supporting statements already made by UN global leaders and eminent human rights spokespeople.

IFSW has followed with concern the debate arising from the bill before the Ugandan Parliament concerning homosexuality. IFSW has consulted the Chairperson of the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda and social work leaders in Africa. IFSW has also followed debates between social workers and social work educators in Africa. We recognise that there are different views.

‘IFSW respects the territorial integrity of national governments and member organisations and does not usually seek to engage in debates about policies or legislation within individual countries, David Jones continued. ‘However the regional and global risks to human rights arising from this legislation are such that a comment is required in this case.’

IFSW respects and upholds the international conventions and treaties which explicitly recognise the right of all individuals to give expression to their sexual orientation, among many other basic rights. These global conventions and policies have been developed by common agreement and in the light of experience and research and are reflected in the global ethical principles of social work, endorsed by IFSW and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW). No further justification of the right to freedom of sexual orientation is needed or appropriate. We note that the United Nations Secretary General, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Bishop Desmond Tutu and other world leaders have all criticised and advised against the legislation on these grounds. The world body of social workers endorses those statements.

We note the concern in Uganda to respond to sexual abuse of children and young people and of vulnerable adults. IFSW entirely endorses this objective and would be pleased to work with the Ugandan government and other parties, including the National Association of Social Workers of Uganda, to draft and implement legislation to enforce the highest standards of child protection. We note that children can be at risk of sexual abuse for many reasons and from many quarters. We note that the abuse of girls and young women by older men has been the subject of heated debate in many African countries, as well as the abuse of boys and young men. Both evils must be confronted.

Effective child protection legislation should deal firmly and unequivocally with all forms of ill-treatment of children and young people, without fear or favour and regardless of the status of the men and women involved. Social workers are often the lead professionals when such action is taken and fully understand the legislation and intervention required.

However all international policy and academic research make clear that the expression of sexual orientation is a human right. It is misguided and an abuse of human rights to imply that the expression of sexual orientation and ill-treatment of children are the same or related. They are not.

‘IFSW calls on the Ugandan Parliament to reject this legislation’, concluded David Jones, ‘including its cruel and severe penalties, including the death penalty, targeted at friends and family members of gay people as well as gay people themselves. We offer our global experience to assist the Ugandan people to strengthen their child protection legislation, if they consider this appropriate.’

This is a measured statement and one which does not deal point by point with the NASWU position. I suspect other negative statements will come soon. I am aware that the United States NASW is working on a statement.

15 thoughts on “International Federation of Social Workers denounce Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill”

  1. As Tiger Woods and Jesse James have recently illustrated, it is legal in the US to ruin one’s life and marriage with multiple concurrent partners. One may without legal penalty maintain a swinging lifestyle here. I suppose if one tried to pass these relationships off as multiple marriages or cohabitations, then one might run afoul of polygamy statutes and one may not legally consumate these relationships in a marriage. However, in contrast, it is illegal to engage in private consensual same-sex relations in Uganda. Under the AHB, it will be illegal for SSA people to touch each other.


    Sorry, the first line of my rejoinder should read:

    Well, your logic CAN be applied equally to polygamy which remains criminalised as “Bigamy” in the West…

  3. Warren, you wrote the following, and I quote :


    “One does not need to agree with homosexual behavior as a moral good in order to advocate for the essential humanity and freedom to make moral choices about adult consensual behavior without the coercion of the state”


    Well, your logic an be applied equally to polygamy which remains criminalised as “Bigamy” in the West. Why not apply your libertarian viewpoint on this issue which is of crucial importance to many African people. Why should consenting relations between a man and two women be criminal offence eh? Why can’t the USA allow people to make moral choices in the State of Utah on the issue of polygamy eh? why state coercion?

    We will consider the issue of decriminalizing homosexuality as soon as you guys decriminalize polygamy which is derogatively referred to as Bigamy in your homeland.

  4. Maazi – I see the advocacy as pro-image of God.

    There are significant differences between pedophilia/bestiality and attractions to adult humans. Your analogy misses these differences. Often these analogies allow the person making them to see the same-sex attracted person as less than worthy of respect as an image bearer of God.

    One does not need to agree with homosexual behavior as a moral good in order to advocate for the essential humanity and freedom to make moral choices about adult consensual behavior without the coercion of the state.

  5. Warren, we are probably never going to agree on this issue. However let me state that Gays are attracted to the same sex as much as paedophiles are attracted to children and bestialists to animals. I do not see you or the others call for understanding for paedophiles/bestialists on grounds that their sexual orientation is “occuring naturally to them”. May be, it is because the West has not yet got round to legalising these reviled vices. I am sure that 30 to 40 years down the line when the bestialists have managed to raise a good lobby group and campaign successfully for acceptance and decriminalization in the West, then Euro-American liberals will appear in Africa to advocate the protection of people’s “human rights” to be attracted to their pet dogs. You are mistaken if you think we will sit back passively and allow our nation to be re-modelled as an exotic Gay Tourist Paradise for westerners. The revised Bill shall become law regardless of your pro-gay advocacy.

  6. Mazzi,

    One of the best ways to understand the temptations and struggles of others is to look and understand your own. Do you have any weakness that you have tried to overcome and still struggle with? How would you like people to treat you while you are still in this stronghold? Imprisonment? Death? Does friendship and understanding and hope in the future and God’s grace sound better? I am asking you to put yourself, personally, without any pretense, in the same position of another and see if you can feel what they do. We can see humanity through our own eyes which is limited and flawed or we can see humanity through the eyes of God – fearfully and wonderfully made. Please don’t limit the human potential by passing this law – it will only serve a human purpose, one that is ego driven instead of serving God who believes that all humans have value and deserve to know redemption in His time and choosing.

  7. Maazo,

    You have every right to believe what you believe. It is sad that our belief system is going to kill some innocent people.

  8. Maazi – You speak of Gayism like it is a contamination in your water supply. African gays are flesh and blood Africans who did nothing more than find out that they are attracted to the same sex. Culture becomes an excuse for diminishing the humanity of your fellow Africans who, for whatever reason, have different attractions than you.

  9. Well Warren, I wish you and your brand of christianity good luck. I understand that Gayism is part of your culture, hence your wish to spread it to our part of the world. But we are opposed to it mainly on cultural grounds. Ssempa and other religious leaders may oppose on the basis of christianity or Islam, but my opposition is strictly cultural.

    In all traditional societies, homosexuality is strongly opposed. Singapore’s oppositon to homosexuality is cultural. China’s ambivalence to homosexuality (which it decriminalised only in 1997) and restrictions on it (e.g. cancelling the gay paegantry and close monitoring of gay clubs) is also culture-based. In Japan and S.Korea which has laws protecting Gayism, many people consider this phenomena to be taboo. So Africa’s opposition is not strictly based on christianity/Islam as claimed by Euro-American gay propagandists who blame the fundamentalist Rick Warren for our attempt to tackle an issue which western NGOs have been promoting quietly in our backyards.

    I cannot support anything that opposes our culture and will resist any imposition from outside. I don’t like polygamy, but its part of our culture. Gayism for us is completely foreign and would therefore be resisted to the last.

  10. Maazi said

    The Bugandan King is indeed African and as far as we are concerned his homosexuality was a result of his prolonged contact with Arab traders.

    I have heard this as well, but have seen no evidence for it. Is there any?

    I did not say Africa was pro-gay, but it seems clear that Mwanga and his father were not opposed to same-sex behavior. They were probably at least bisexual since they both had wives and children.

    I do understand the communal sense of non-Western cultures. It is taught by Christianity. And this is part of what drives me. What Uganda is doing does not just reflect on Uganda. It reflects upon Christ and His church, of which I am a part. When you pick up stones to kill the homosexual, it makes the job of Christians world wide much harder to proclaim the good news of the Gospel which is redemption is available to all, not through state coercion but through connection to Christ. What you do there effects believers everywhere.

  11. Warren, the United Nations comprises of over 190 nations, but it is policy-making is dominated by the United States and other Western nations. IFSW may have executives from other parts of the world, but its policy-making is controlled by the West. If bestiality is legalised in the west, IFSW will issue a statement claiming that it is a “human right”.

    The Bugandan King is indeed African and as far as we are concerned his homosexuality was a result of his prolonged contact with Arab traders. Missionaries strongly opposed polygamy in Africa, but it remains legal in all african nations (including predominantly Christian African nations) and is practised by baptised christians to the dismay of Church clergy. Christian missionaries could not stop polygamy because it is an integral part of our culture. Homosexuality is not part of our culture and is therefore despised and resisted. All these statements saying that “Africans were pro-gay before the white missionaries arrived” is merely convenient revisionist propaganda peddled by Euro-American Gays and their local agents. All books spreading this propaganda is written by Western academics or their local agents…

  12. Sorry, Mr. Throckmorton, but it will take more than statements from eurocentric organisations like IFSW to stop us from protecting our culture from Western debauchery, which you shamelessly promote via your website. Wheeling out Western Christians (moderate or fundamentalist) to act as ventriquolist dolls for powerful western gay interests will also not cut any ice with us. The Bill (albeit in revised form) will be passed as soon as the Ugandan Parliament is ready. I advise you to fight battles where you might have a chance of winning. For instance, you can apply your gay propagandist skills to the “war” to get 31 states in your own country to overturn their ban on gay marriage. As far as Ugandans are concerned, Gayism is a closed issue. The law will simply codify what already applies in customary laws of our people which pre-date colonialism and the modern Ugandan State. Have a good day !

    1. Maazi NCO – Thanks for dropping by.

      Was King Mwanga a Bugandan king? It seems to me that the arguments about what is African and what is not cut against you at least in the sense that one argues that homosexuality is a European/American import. It was there before the missionaries came, true?

      The fight I am waging is not in favor of a moral view of behavior but a state which respects the moral agency of its citizens.

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