SCONUL Statement on IFLA decision to hold the 2024 World Library and Information Congress in Dubai - Fri, 30 Jun 2023

SCONUL is disappointed by IFLA’s decision to hold the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) 2024 in Dubai and concerned about the implications for the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ colleagues[1]


There are 64 countries in the world with laws that criminalise homosexuality[2] and the United Arab Emirates is one of these. While some colleagues from the LGBTQ+ community may feel able to attend, many will not, irrespective of travel advice or assurances from those organising the conference.


We support IFLA’s stated intention to act as the global voice of libraries and to engage beyond Europe and North America[3] including for conference locations. This is to be encouraged and is an important corrective to a long history in which Europe and North America have been privileged over other global regions.  However, doing so does not entail choosing locations in which homosexuality is criminalised. There are many other potential locations across the global south which would also benefit from hosting where this is not the case.


We recognise that locating the conference in Dubai will enable some participants to attend who might otherwise not be able to. However, references to the empowerment of women in the IFLA statement suggest that it is reasonable to trade off the rights of one group against another. This is not the right approach and runs counter to the values and ethics of our profession.


We ask that the IFLA Board to review this decision and reconsider in the interests of our LGBTQ+ colleagues and in line with the values of our professional community.


[1] SCONUL is not a member of IFLA in its own right but we recognise that staff across our member institutions have personal affiliate status.