Homosexuality is not a sickness. However, specialists haven’t always thought so. For a long time, mental health professionals considered sexual activity between same-sex partners an illness. On May 17, 1991, the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. In 1996, the Canadian Psychological Association followed suit by adopting several resolutions.
Unfortunately, prejudice is deep-rooted. Some people continue to think that homosexuality is a mental disorder while others mistakenly believe that it can be cured. Specialists know that this is impossible. There is no scientific basis for such therapies and they can cause more harm than good.
LGBT* communities must feel comfortable in consulting a healthcare professional. Healthcare includes a vast number of workers and professionals in the physical, mental, and public health fields, including chiropractors, dentists, dieticians, nurses, occupational therapists, social workers, surgeons, and so on.
Prejudice against LGBT* communities is not easy to fight, especially when ingrained in institutional systems. It’s sad to say that even though homosexuality is not a disease, issues concerning the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and policy bans on donating blood and organs reinforce prejudice by associating disease with sexual activity between same-sex partners.
Training programs tailored to LGBT* client needs must be offered to Healthcare Workers and Professionals. Negative fallout may result from breaking the bond of trust between doctor and patient if physicians assume what a patient’s sexual orientation is. Individuals in positions of authority and care must be completely trusted, which can only come from an environment of inclusion and openness.
*LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, and 2 spirited communities.