Hospital issues apology after homophobic sign listing LGBT+ as a ‘mental health disorder’ spotted in reception

An NHS staff member wearing a stethoscope

A sign was spotted in the reception area of an NHS hospital in southeast England that stated that being LGBT+ – or rather, “LGBTG” – is a “mental health disorder”.

Ellen Gibson took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon (18 August) to share the poster seen in the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow.

The sign, which bore no National Health Service imagery and was not affiliated with the hospital itself, representatives told PinkNews, was plastered on a board in a reception area of the building’s urgent care card, Gibson said.

After Gibson’s tweet winnowed fury on social media, hospital representatives confirmed that the sign was not an official material distributed by the health provider and was swiftly removed.

It comes after earlier this month a major NHS document distributed by the service’s trust and provider monitoring agency appeared to suggest that being LGBT+ was a disability.

Crude poster in NHS hospital lists being LGBT+ as a ‘mental health disorder’ alongside ‘working in emergency services’.

According to the photograph shared by Gibson, the mock poster asked hospital-goers if they are “experiencing any of these” conditions, which ranged from real mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, to “working in emergency services” or symptoms of conditions, for example, anxiety.

The poster, Gibson stressed, simply listed these “disorders” and had no contact details for any mental health services or treatment providers. Nor is an official signature or header printed on the poster from any hospital trust or agency.

But tucked inside the list was being “LGBTG”. “Where to even start with this poster,” Gibson wrote, “on the wall of an actual hospital.

“Being part of the LGBT+ (or LGBTG) community isn’t a mental health disorder and I can’t believe I’m having to say this to an NHS institution?”

Gibson added: “This is particularly bad language to use given that being LGBTQ *was* designated as a mental health disorder until shockingly recently (1990 for LGB and *2019* for trans people) and that has caused irreparable damage to so many lives over the years.

“It’s unclear who put the poster up or what the intention was (agree that this could be well-intentioned!) – but [in my opinion] that doesn’t make it OK for this to be there, especially given the harm that’s been inflicted on LGBT+ [people] from being told we’re mentally ill.”

The Princess Alexdrana Hospital Twitter account apologised for “any offence caused” and said that the post had been swiftly removed from the premises.

“Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” a tweet from the hospital read. “Please be assured that the view implied by the poster is not that of the trust.”

Trevor Smith, deputy chief executive of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, told PinkNews: “We apologise for the offence caused by a poster displayed in our hospital. The poster was removed immediately and action is being taken to understand how this was displayed.

“We regret the concern this situation has caused and we assure all our patients that the view implied by the poster is not the view of the trust.”