A poll by an online community for healthcare workers suggests forty percent believe homophobia is a problem in the profession.

Community Care, a website for social workers and social care professionals ran a self-selecting poll for the group, to which 317 responded.

Four in ten said homophobia was a problem in social care. 30 percent did not believe anti-gay feeling was a problem and the remainder were unsure.

A respondent said “homophobia, racism, prejudice, oppressive and discriminatory practice and bullying is rife in social work”.

Another said a family in their experience was convinced their social worker was gay and was “attempting to remove children out of bitterness regarding his inability to biologically reproduce.”

One social worker felt unable to disclose their sexuality due to “militant Christian (and to a lesser extent Muslim)” co-workers.

Regarding their employment situation, one respondent said: “My line manager loves working with gay men but told me ‘I don’t ‘get’ lesbians’. Like racism, sexism ageism etc homophobia is present and needs to be discussed and tackled head on.”

Community Care said the poll had been launched in response to discussions on its online forums about gay social workers being obliged to hide their sexual orientation.

More than 80 percent of respondents thought manager should not be able to tell employees to hide their sexual orientation, but 14 percent approved.

One forum user said his manager told him not to disclose his homosexuality. Heterosexual workers, the manager said, could because being straight was “normal”.

Community Care said some poll respondents thought sexuality should not be discussed anyway, as social workers are in “a professional environment”. Additionally, concern was raised that any personal information could be used against social workers by some service users.