World Federation of the Deaf Congress 2027

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2023 National Disabled Members' Conference
19 October 2023

Conference notes the decision taken on 10 July by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) to hold their 2027 World Congress in United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country where homosexuality is illegal and consensual same-sex sexual activity is punishable by imprisonment.

It has been reported that in their presentation the UAE delegation stated that discussion of LGBT+ topics would not be allowed at the Congress. As a result of this, the WFD Board withdrew their recommendation for the bid, however the WFD General Assembly of 130 member countries voted in favour of the UAE hosting the event. The WFD Board issued a statement on 12 July stating they were “deeply troubled by this decision causing distress and raising serious questions about inclusiveness, particularly the inclusion of Deaf LGBTQIA+ topics.”

On 12 July the British Deaf Association also released a statement expressing their concerns about the decision. They stated that the decision “could be seen to endorse the UAE’s discriminatory and punitive stance on homosexuality, which could make life even harder for LGBTQIA+ people living in or visiting the UAE. It would send a message that the WFD is willing to accept that LGBTQIA+ deaf people are less deserving of equal human rights”.

Conference notes that UNISON has an active Deaf caucus for native British Sign Language speakers and that our Deaf members also have intersecting identities as Black, women and LGBT+ Deaf people, for example. Conference firmly believes that the safety of LGBT+ Deaf people should not be put at risk by the decision to hold the WFD World Congress 2027 in UAE, and nor should the WFD legitimise homophobic laws.

Conference calls on the national disabled members committee to work with the Deaf caucus and the national LGBT+ committee to support appropriate campaigns to call for the decision to be rescinded.