A new report has revealed that a large number of doctors in Europe still think being gay is an illness.
In a survey interviewing medical professionals from 19 member states, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has found that as many as 50% of doctors in some countries still treat homosexuality as a disease.
The report, which calls for steps to be taken to stop the classification of homosexuality as an illness, stated that in countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, medical professionals spoke of ‘catching’ homosexuality. In Romania, half of the professionals interviewed viewed homosexuality as a disorder.
It was also the case that many healthcare professionals didn’t know of problems that can affect people from the community.
In one response from a nurse in Romania, she explained that LGBT people were treated as “plague stricken”.
“We consider that these illnesses are generated by the fact that these people had an unhappy incident during childhood and then they try somehow to respond to this need in a different way than the other people,” she said.
“When [a homosexual] goes for the first time to a medical department then it is for sure that that person is regarded by employees, starting with the bodyguard and ending I don’t know where, as plague-stricken.”
Michael O’Flaherty, director of the FRA, said that the report highlighted the work that had to be done in education and professional training in order to counteract discrimination.
“LGBT people have the same rights to education, to healthcare and to be treated equally as everyone else. They too have the right to live their life in dignity, free from fear and discrimination,” he said.
“FRA’s latest findings reveal how some doctors still wrongly believe that homosexuality is a disease. They underscore the need for the EU and its Member States to empower public officials to act on their duty to deliver high quality service to help end the suffering many LGBT people experience.”
As well as dealing with homosexuality, the report said that trans people in particular suffered due to a lack of awareness in healthcare.
It also highlighted the fact that a large number of LGBT hate crime often goes unreported or is not recorded in the correct way by police officers.
The research follows a report by Stonewall last year that highlighted the discrimination still prevalent in UK hospitals.
In that, it found that one in ten social and health care workers observed colleagues expressing the belief that LGBT patients can be cured of their sexuality.