Be on the right side of the human rights agenda.
That is the challenge Executive Director of the Barbados Family Planning Association, George Griffith, issued to social workers as he addressed the monthly general meeting of the Barbados Association of Professional Social Workers last weekend.
Speaking on the topic “Sexuality and Human Rights within the context of Contemporary Social Work, Griffith reminded social workers that they are change to provide leadership on issues related to same sex unions, access to health care for adolescents without parental consent and social service delivery to sexual minorities.
Griffith argued that even though Barbados was signatory to the Millennium Development Goals in 2008, which stipulated that comprehensive sexuality education be provided in he school system by 2015, this was yet to be achieved. According to Griffith, parents and other care-givers to the nation’s children and youth prefer to talk about a child’s physiological and academic development more so than their child’s sexuality or sexual development.
Remarking that it was his knowledge that anal sex was being practised in both homosexual and heterosexual relationships in Barbados, Griffith stated that the Barbados’ laws did not criminalise homosexuality, rather the law criminalised buggery.
He noted that social workers were trained to separate the person from the behaviour and as such must dialogue within the respective agencies to shape policy and service delivery that are not discriminatory or stigmatising or that would restrict an individual’s access to services based on sexual orientation.
The discussion that followed centred on what limits or parameters needed to be put in place to prevent possible extreme interpretations of sexual and human rights; an appeal to ensure that persons with disabilities, particularly those who are intellectually challenged be accounted for in policy, particularly with regard to protection from sexual violence; and the suggestion that sexual rights discussion must be broader than access to services or marriage by minorities, but include what rights same sex unions could possibly have to adoption of children.