Less than half of LGBTQ+ doctors feel able to be open about sexual orientation

  • Date: 04 November 2022
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  • 3 minute read

A SURVEY of UK doctors has found that only 46 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer respondents feel able to be open about their sexual orientation where they work or study.

The results feature in a report by the BMA in partnership with the Association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists (GLADD), which also found that 43 per cent of LGB+ respondents report having directly experienced homophobia or biphobia and 49 per cent of trans respondents directly experiencing transphobia.

More than a quarter (29 per cent) of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer respondents and 59 per cent of trans respondents considered their experiences serious enough to amount to unlawful discrimination, abuse or harassment.

Nearly all LGBQ+ respondents (94 per cent) report having heard or overheard homophobic or biphobic jokes or banter, and 81 per cent of trans respondents had heard or overheard transphobic jokes or banter.

The report does reflect optimism that attitudes are changing, with 63 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer respondents and 46 per cent of trans respondents expressing a belief that the medical profession has become more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people in the last five years.

Commenting on the BMA report on LGBTQ+ doctors’ experiences, Dr Gordon McDavid, medico-legal adviser at MDDUS said: “The results of the BMA’s latest report show that we have a long way to go to make the medical profession a safe and welcoming place for LGBTQ+ doctors.

“From personal experience as a gay man, I still hesitate before answering questions like 'What does your wife do?' You never know how a colleague or patient is going to react when you tell them you have a husband."

Dr Emma Runswick, BMA deputy chair of council, said: “Doctors should be able to be who they are at work without fear of discrimination and prejudice - that is a key principle of what BMA stands for. I may have the distinction of being the first Chief Officer in the history of the BMA to be 'out', but it is unlikely that I am the first to be LGBTQ+. That is because it has not always been safe to be out publicly, especially in professional circles. Changing that is why we do what we do as a professional association and a trade union.

“Many of us will recognise the experiences described in this report, myself included. It is unacceptable that any of our LGBTQ+ colleagues feel that responses to their sexuality or gender identity is making them want to quit the profession, especially at a time when we can’t afford to lose a single doctor.

“While the report in some places shows we are making progress, and we should celebrate that, it is nevertheless an urgent call to fill in the gaps in education and training and repair the broken systems that allow these prejudices to continue without accountability.

“I look forward to a future where every doctor feels proud of who they are and can build a career free from fear and hate.”

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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