21/01/2022 | Writer: Yunus Kara

Reconsidering the ethical values within the context of practices and interventions of social service experts to LGBTI+ applicants, it is possible to say we failed.

Inclusive and Affirmative Social Service Practice Book for LGBTI+s   Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

As social service experts, we promise ourselves about several issues like to act carefully for social justice and human rights, to undo the harm that has been done by prejudice, discrimination, oppression, violence and to make an end of these, especially during the undergraduate period. These promises circle around strengthening disadvantaged/vulnerable people/groups and increasing their well-being which are among the main objectives of social service as a profession. Our struggle for ensuring social change and social justice in behalf of our applicants and our efforts for improving well-being of people as a part of our profession become concrete with ethical values.

Ethical values provide core knowledge related to interventions which were directed or will be directed to the applicants.  I would like to mention ethical values in social service in brief. Since the inability to internalize these ethical values leads up to falling short or absence of social service practices especially for LGBTI+s.

There are six (6) basic values in social service.[1] These are as follows:

(1) Service

(2) Social Justice

(3) Dignity and Worth of the Person

(4) Importance of Human Relationships

(5) Integrity

(6) Competence

(1) Service: This ethical value points out that the primary goal of social service experts is the necessity to provide service for people in need who have social problems. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills in order to support people in need who have social problems and who have not access to social service, and develop services within the context of their professional responsibility. All these are in this ethical value.   

(2) Social Justice:  This ethical value focuses on the challenge of social service experts with social injustice. Social workers make an effort to provide social change / transformation with and on behalf of oppressed and vulnerable people and groups. Targeting social change related to poverty, unemployment, discrimination and other forms of social injustice, working to increase awareness about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity, and striving to ensure equality of opportunity, access to needed information and meaningful participation in decision making for all people may be considered in the scope of this ethical value.

(3) Dignity and Worth of the Person: This ethical value includes the belief of social service expert that each person has an inherent dignity and should be respected. Treating each person in a caring and respectful fashion considering their all discrepancies, promoting applicants for self-determination, seeking to enhance applicants’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs, are considered in the scope of this ethical value.

(4) Importance of Human Relationships: This ethical value points out that a social service expert recognize the central importance of human relationships. Understanding the importance of human relationships between and among the people as a vehicle for change, getting in touch with several people during intervention / practice period, seeking to strengthen relationships among people in order to promote, restore, maintain and enhance the well-being of individuals, social groups, organizations and communities, are considered in the scope of this ethical value.

(5) Integrity: This ethical value is based on behaving in a trustworthy manner. Being aware of the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards and practicing in a manner consistent with them, promoting ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which social service experts affiliated or at the field, are considered in the scope of this ethical value.  

(6) Competence: This ethical value focuses on practicing within the areas of competence and developing and enhancing professional expertise. Striving to increase professional knowledge and skills and to apply them in practice, aspiring to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession, may be considered in the scope of this ethical value.

Reconsidering all these ethical values within the context of practices and interventions of social service experts to LGBTI+ applicants, it is possible to say we failed. Since social service as a profession and therefore its practice don’t include LGBTI+s in Turkey. Although we can pursue the developments at practices towards disadvantaged groups, both theoretically and institutionally, LGBTI+s were excluded and they continue to be excluded. The social work literature related to LGBTI+s in Turkey is still limited. Hence social service students are “not exposed to” terminology, practices and interventions for a long part of their education life – it wouldn’t be wrong to say whole part of it –  related to LGBTI+s.  This “non-exposure” statue, makes the social service students, social service experts and social service academics be unaware of the needs and problems of LGBTI+s, and the LGBTI+ exclusive policies related to access to education, health, employment, social service, law and justice, due to there are several studies considering the issue.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6] 

On balance, the need to facilitate the practices directed to LGBTI+s for social services experts is as clear as crystal. Herein the book called “Inclusive and Affirmative Social Service for LGBTI+s” has been befittingly published. The book, which was prepared with the aim of facilitating the practices in the field in order to increase social and emotional well-being of LGBTI+s, by understanding the needs in the area of social work, by determining the needs and problems related to all aspects of the lives of LGBTI+s and social service experts, is a very useful book for us. There is a concept map that social service experts should know about implementing practices for LGBTI+s, at the first part of the book. In the second part, the myths, which strike root in the mind of several personnel at the mental health services, are clarified. And in the third part, some issues like coming out, gender confirmation period, working with LGBTI+s’ parents and families, violence, hate speech, hate crimes are mentioned in order to help social service experts to realize inclusive and affirmative practices directed to LGBTI+s. The studies made by activists and non- governmental organizations also take place in the book for uprising the experience of social service experts. In addition the book provides a wide range of social service practices directed to LGBTI+s. Therefore the book carries weight in terms of creating a platform where social service experts may assume the role of advocacy by being a mediator between their colleagues, the society and the applicants in order to challenge the inequalities and discrimination that LGBTI+s has been exposed to in the historical process.

Changing the traditional social rules which exclude and marginalize LGBTI+s,  may be possible with the comprehensive, complete, sustainable and multidimensional policies developed on the basis of gender identity / expression and sexual orientation. In addition to these policies, considering the forms of discrimination and violence experienced by LGBTI+s as a risk factor, which makes them vulnerable psychologically, emotionally, socially and economically, is also very important for supporting LGBTI+s through therapeutic and strengthening interventions. I believe that the emotional, social, psychological, economic and political phenomena that marginalize LGBTI+s and prevent them to express themselves freely and to develop a positive identity may be reduced via social service experts with the help of this book. I also hope that the book would constitute a basis for the mentioned policies and strengthening interventions.  

I hope to be able to mediate the call for a radical transformation at  personal, inter-personal, cultural and sociocultural levels, by accepting and internalizing our ethical codes and values within the framework of advocacy, and to be able to celebrate diversities and variegation, with the support of this book.  

Click here to reach the book.

* This article has been prepared within the context of Enhancing Advocacy Frontline for Equality project, which is supported by the European Union. This doesn't mean that the content of the article reflects the official views of the European Union.

[1] Gökçearslan-Çifci, E., Gönen, E. (2011). Sosyal hizmet uygulamalarında etik karar verme süreci. Toplum ve Sosyal Hizmet, 22 (2), 149-160.

[2] Altunpolat, R. (2017). LGBTİ’lere yönelik ayrımcılığı tarihsel ve politik temelde kavramak. Türk Tabipler Birliği Mesleki Sağlık ve Güvenlik Dergisi, 17 (64), 2-14.

[3] Flores, A. R., Park, A. (2018). Polarized progress: Social acceptance of LGBT people in 141 countries, 1981 to 2014. Available at: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/PolarizedProgress-April-2018.pdf

[4] Göregenli, M., Karakuş, P. (2011). Türkiye'deki LGBT bireylerin günlük yaşamlarında maruz kaldığı heteroseksist ayrımcı tutum ve uygulamalar. Kaos GL, Antihomofobi kitabı 3: Uluslararası homofobi karşıtı buluşma içinde (s. 52-75). Ankara: Kaos GL.

[5] Kara, Y., Kır, H., Özgün, Y., Okumuş, E. (2021). “Pandemi Sürecinde LGBTİ+’ların Sosyal Hizmetlere Erişimi Raporu.” Sosyal Politika, Cinsiyet Kimliği ve Cinsel Yönelim Çalışmaları Derneği. İstanbul.

[6] Kara, Y. (2020). Is Queer Social Work Possible? Social Sciences Studies Journal (SSSJournal), 61, 1718-1723. DOI: 10.26449/sssj.2278.

*The article was originally written and published at KaosGL.org in Turkish and translated to English by Selma Koçak

Tags: human rights