Saturday, 22 May 2010

MASW: Social Workers Stand up against Discrimination towards LGBT individuals

Malta Association of Social Workers

The 17th of May is globally recognised as the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). The Maltese Association of Social Workers (MASW) would like to commemorate this day to raise awareness on the discrimination and lack of equal opportunities that is faced by the Maltese LGBT community.

Social workers continue to meet with various serious cases which raise concern on the levels of homophobia and transphobia in Malta. Rita* is a 16 year old who is living in a shelter for homeless because her parents did not want a lesbian daughter as part of their family, and after many physical violent attacks from family members, she was forced to move out of the family house. Although she is being followed by social workers who continuously attempt in empower and affirming her, Rita is still faced with the difficulty of belonging to her natural family, which is her basic human right as a minor living in Malta – a country which ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 20 years ago.

A female-to-male transgender young person, Alex*, is finding challenges in integrating in a girls-only school but he does not associate himself with the biological female gender assigned at birth. Alex is bullied at school by his peers and the educational systems as a whole since he is not given the opportunity to attend a school which caters for the gender that he identifies with – a boys’ school. While doing the best they can, the school social workers that work with Alex faces challenges within the whole educational structure to bring about such change. As a result, Alex is not doing very well in his grades and he is indirectly being forced not continue his education, which will eventually jeopardize his opportunities to work and further his studies. These actions also violate his fundamental human right to received education and employment.

MASW calls for institutions to be more open to dialogue with civil societies and professionals working with the LGBT community, and include LGBT issues in the curricula to continue raising awareness on the challenges and opportunities faced by such individuals. Furthermore, as an EU Member State dedicating the year 2010 as the European Year of Combating poverty and social exclusion, due attention should be given by stakeholders at national level to sensitize with these realities and seek ways to address these types of social exclusion.

It is hoped that IDAHO 2010 brings forth a positive wave of social acceptance for sexual minorities worldwide, who at the least wish to live their lives in peace and tranquility, free from prejudice, harassment and violence and for those of us who dare to dream, communities which treat them equally and respect and honour the diversity of the human condition.

The International Federation of Social Workers (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). Malta has also been represented in a statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. For more information visit:

* Names were changed to protect the individuals
** MASW is a member of IFSW

No comments:

Post a Comment