A South African organisation called Doctors for Life International (DFL) is spreading dangerous anti-LGBT misinformation, including that LGBT people are a danger to children.
Mambaonline was recently alerted to a disturbing YouTube video shared on the group’s Facebook page. It states that the “LGBT community is trying to humanise paedophilia and legitimise paedo-sexuality”.
DFL appears to believe that this crackpot video, produced by a right-wing vlogger called The White Rose, meets its stated principle of being guided by “sound science in the medical profession”.
The group, which claims to “represent 1600 medical doctors and specialists”, writes alongside the post: “There is a reason why we instinctively feel alarmed when a creepy man watches our children because it causes us to protect our children from being molested and traumatized – the LGBT pushing to have us accept them wanting to have sex with our children.”
This is not a once-off misguided post by DFL, but part of a sustained anti-LGBT campaign. In fact, it’s ideology and not science that dominates in the many discriminatory statements, posts and articles that DFL shares on its Facebook page.
These include claims that LGBT Pride events lead to “the super-sexualisation of children”; that LGBT groups are responsible for the rise in HIV/AIDS among young people; that “transgenderism is ‘a contagion of mass delusion'” and; that “the homosexual lifestyle” has “harmful side-effects”.
Perpetuating fear, homophobia and transphobia
In a recent media statement, DFL also lashed out at what it says are recommendations to government by various NGOs to improve services for LGBT people in areas such as education and health.
The organisation, which is based in KwaZulu-Natal, warns that if the recommendations are adopted, schools would have to teach “South African children about homosexual practises and sex”.
It further asserts that “children who think they might be transgender will be allowed to use any bathroom they wish, compromising the privacy of both boys and girls”.
The statement, which includes quotes arguing that transgender people are “counterfeits or impersonators”, further warns that if South African identity documents are permitted to reflect a transgender individual’s gender identity this will mean that “identity fraud is made easier”.
On its website, the organisation cites and misrepresents carefully selected research to back the belief that same-sex attraction can be changed through so-called “conversion therapy”. This practice has been widely discredited by mainstream medical and mental health groups as dangerous, unethical and ineffective.
Matthew Clayton, Research, Advocacy and Policy Coordinator at LGBTI rights group Triangle Project, believes that, “Doctors for Life is perpetuating fear, homophobia and transphobia under the guise of legitimate medical debate”.
“They are consistently on the wrong side of arguments in terms of civil rights and medical science,” Clayton told Mambaonline.
“A debate that calls into question people’s human rights and relies on damaging tropes around sexual perversion should not be entered into or entertained.”
Clayton added: “Experts in South Africa and internationally in these fields would find Doctors for Life’s arguments unsubstantiated by our current understanding of the complex spectrum of human sexual and gender identity”.
Disturbingly, DFL is not just a fringe group but has been given considerable legitimacy by the South African media. The group’s conservative views on issues such as abortion and efforts to legalise assisted suicide, sex work and cannabis is widely quoted by the press, with little context of their other discriminatory and dangerous views.