‘I was told I should be hanging from a tree’: Homophobia in UK hospitals

Healthcare professionals from across the UK have spoken to Stonewall about some of the shocking lapses within the healthcare system – including the promotion of gay cure therapy.

As part of a wide-ranging report on the health industry released today, Stonewall spoke to a number of LGBT heath professionals.

Shockingly, one mental health professional reported the promotion of gay cure therapy at her hospital.

Jane, a psychotherapist from the West Midlands, said of the incident: “A leaflet was put up on a work noticeboard that promoted gay aversion therapy.

“I brought this to the attention of my manager, who put the leaflet on her desk.

“It was taken from her desk and re-pinned on the noticeboard.

“I feel that (the two openly gay people in the team) were given responsibility for a response to the issue on behalf of the team and it was kept secret from others.”

Stonewall’s newest research found that one in 10 workers in both social and health care have observed colleagues expressing the belief that LGBT patients can be cured of their sexualities.

Elsewhere, health workers reported that homophobia is rife in the industry – with some staff continuing to hold anti-gay beliefs inside and outside the NHS.

Chris, a nurse from the North West, said: “I was told I should be hanging from a tree by a nurse from Nigeria with strong religious beliefs. People refused to drink from a mug I had used in case I had AIDS.”

Sarah, a support worker, added: “A colleague who is gay made a remark about his partner and another colleague said ‘Oh my god, seriously, are you gay? Gross’.

“The irony of this was that the remark was made during equality and diversity training.”

Fiona, a social worker, said: “I have heard negative comments, referring to individuals as ‘it’ or ‘she males’, also comments about the appearance of trans people.”

It’s not just homophobia among colleagues that was reported, either.

Paul, a nurse in Yorkshire, said: “[Homophobic abuse] is almost a daily occurrence.

“Yesterday I was told by a patient: ‘I don’t want you working with me because you work with queers, I bet it’s because you take it up the arse as well, you’re a f****** pervert, and I might f****** catch something’.

“A colleague of mine was assaulted two days ago by a patient because he’s gay. The organisation won’t do anything.”

Jim, a social worker from the North East, said: “There is a shocking lack of importance placed on awareness of issues surrounding sexual orientation.”

Stonewall’s health report, Unhealthy Attitudes, focuses on bigotry towards the LGBT community in the medical field.

In Scotland, where its been reported that almost all LGBT people still deal with prejudice, administrator Ellen said: “People toying with whether the person should be treated by female or male staff led to delay in providing services.”

‘I was told I should be hanging from a tree’: Homophobia in UK hospitals

The charity calls for stronger “fit-for-purpose” training in both medical education and organisations to promote better relations between LGBT patients and care workers.

Sophia, a doctor in the East Midlands, said: “I had this training because I specifically sought it out – I don’t think it’s covered enough for most doctors.”

Other interviewees noted the poor options available to them for training on the issue.