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GPs face fresh homophobia claims

GPs hit back as another report accuses profession of widespread bias against gay colleagues and patients

GP leaders have hit back at claims that the profession is homophobic, after a second report in the space of a few months claimed gay and lesbian staff and patients were suffering prejudice.

The latest report, from gay rights group Stonewall, accuses GPs of creating a homophobic culture where both healthcare workers and patients are being derided and denied opportunities because of their sexuality.

It follows recent findings in the Department of Health's equalities review, which claimed transsexual workers suffered more discrimination from GPs than in the police, education, leisure and financial sectors.

The fresh criticism in Stonewall's report is based on interviews with 21 gay social and health sector workers, including GPs. Participants told of homophobic insults, blocks on career progression and exclusion by colleagues. And the charity wants an NHS 'equality scheme' introducing legal duties, as has been done for race and disability.

However, Dr Laurence Buckman, deputy chair of the GPC, told Pulse: 'I'd be very surprised if there was any discrimination from GPs towards gay patients in the health care they provide – that would be totally wrong. Discrimination is something we don't support or defend. Also, sexual orientation is just not that relevant in a GP consultation, unless it is for sexually transmitted disease.'

The department's equalities review found a quarter of GPs either did nothing for transsexuals who wanted gender reassignment surgery or flatly refused to help. And 60% of GPs said they lacked knowledge in how to help transsexuals.

A recent online survey found most GPs did not believe transsexual treatments should be available of the NHS.

Dr Richard Curtis, a transsexual and one-time GP who is now a gender specialist in London, said: 'Some GPs are very good with trans people – they are sensitive and will do as much as they can. But there is another group who will say to patients that it is all in their head. They tell them to go away, have a beer and think about it – and then they will be fine.'

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