Many European doctors still think homosexuality is a disease

Madrid Gay Pride, 2013. [Barcex/Flickr]

A “large number” of doctors in certain EU member states still view homosexuality as a disease, a report has revealed. Euroefe reports.

“The research also shows that there are still quite a number of healthcare professionals in several EU member states who believe LGBT people suffer from pathological diseases,” said Michael O’Flaherty, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).

A recent FRA report found that Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia are the EU countries where this misconception is most widely held.

This negative view of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people held by groups of professionals like doctors and politicians is a barrier to efforts to end discrimination and stop hate crimes, according to the report.

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The report was based on interviews carried out in 2013 with more than 1,000 public officials and professionals working in policy development and implementation, education, healthcare and law enforcement in 19 EU member states.

Many healthcare professionals were “unaware” of the health problems that can specifically affect LGBT people. This is a reflection of the discrimination LGBT people suffer in the area of healthcare, according to the study.

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“The EU and the member states underestimate the need to educate public servants so they can meet their obligation to provide high quality service and help put an end to the suffering endured by LGBT people,” O’Flaherty explained.

The people questioned as part of the study tended to believe that this lack of information and training was holding them back from effectively tackling discrimination and offering a good service to LGBT people.

“LGBT people have the same rights to education, health and equality as everyone else. They also have the right to live their lives in dignity, without fear or discrimination,” O’Flaherty said.

The report recognised the positive impact of several EU initiatives, but stressed the need for greater professional training to sensitise public servants to the needs of LGBT people.

ILGA-Europe is the European section of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. The organisation welcome the results of the FRA survey, which asked public officials, doctors, teachers and police forces about the laws and policies they felt were most effective at promoting the rights of LGBT people.

“In life, we are all faced with choices. The EU is now faced with a choice between focusing on its own strengths or choosing to be hampered by its own limitations. Competences exist and the EU cannot do everything on its own. But it does have the ability to help make LGBTI children and teachers safer at schools. It can protect people against hate crime and hate speech. It can ensure that LGBTI people receive quality services from informed public officials.” said ILGA-Europe Executive Director Evelyne Paradis, before her appearance at the FRA report launch in Brussels.

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