Aside

Doctors in the Dark

Hey there Guys,

Today I thought it was important to declare a few things…

Firstly I am an openly gay man. What you see above is what you get.

Secondly I am a doctor, a very proud doctor and I 100% believe and live by the Declaration of Geneva, in particular:

“I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;

I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat”

 

Today I am ashamed to be in the same medical profession as more then 150 “doctors” in Australia who have signed a submission that homosexual marriage reform will lead to decreased health outcomes for children. I am disgusted that 23 of these signatories are fellow GPs here in the state of Victoria and another who happens to be the deputy chief psychiatrist, also Victorian.

To bring you up to speed, I’d like to highlight an article from this weekend’s paper about the group “Doctors For The Family“, a group of Christian doctors who have openly declared their belief that homosexual law reform, in particular the removal of the current marriage discrimination, would be detrimental to the lives of children.

As noted in today’s Herald Sun

Professor Kuruvilla George, who is Victoria’s deputy chief psychiatrist, has signed a submission to a senate inquiry calling for a ban on same-sex marriage.

He is among a group of doctors, who in a letter to the marriage equality inquiry, say limiting marriage between a man and woman “is important for the future health of our nation”.

“We submit that the evidence is clear that children who grow up in a family with a mother and father do better in all parameters than children without,” the Doctors for the Family group says…

…Lead author of the submission, GP Lachlan Dunjey said declaring their views publicly would not affect how they treated patients.

“We accept patients of all persuasions and behaviours,” Dr Dunjey said.

But former national AMA president and gay rights activist Kerryn Phelps said the doctors should “hang their heads in shame” and that Prof George’s position on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission should be reviewed.

“They should immediately disqualify themselves from dealing with matters of sexuality, as they clearly have no idea about its complexities.”

 

As persuasive their arguments would appear, sadly the data they cite as the backbone of their platform is cherry picked, flawed and out of date.  As noted by Melbourne researcher, Associate Professor Paula Gerber the current research shows the exact opposite.

“Psychologists Susanne Johnson and Elizabeth O’Conner found that gay and lesbian parents tend to be more responsive to their children, more child oriented, and more egalitarian in their sharing of the workload, characteristics associated with a more positive child outcome.”

“…the highly regarded National Lesbian Longitudinal Family Study has found that “adolescents living with lesbian parents function as well as, or sometimes better than, those reared by opposite-sex parents”.”

“The American Psychological Association has come out in support of same-sex marriage because it has read the empirical research that demonstrates the clear health benefits that flow from allowing same sex couples to marry, including Herdt, G. & Kertzner, R. (2006).”

 

Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton has distanced himself and the AMA from “Doctors For The Family”. Quoted by the ABC:

“There is a growing body of evidence that says there’s no difference in their psychological development, their general health, their sexual orientation,” he said.

Dr Hambleton says the opinions expressed in the submission do not reflect the views of the wider medical community, saying there are nearly 90,000 doctors in Australia.

He says doctors must be mindful of putting their opinions forward because they hold influential positions in society.

“That’s part of the reason why it’s a bit disturbing that these opinions have been proffered. It’s certainly not the opinion of the AMA body of doctors,” he said.

 

So we are left with a small yet loud group of Australian doctors noted to be using out of date evidence to pursue personal and religious agendas. As noted above, their chosen spokesperson GP Lachlan Dunjey said declaring their views publicly would not affect how they treated patients.

This brings up two questions.

  1. Can they honestly say they will be able to treat their gay and lesbian patients with the same respect and care as their heterosexual patients?
  2. If indeed these viewpoints are not going to influence their medical decisions and judgement why did they choose to band as a group of doctors to push their agenda?

As a proud gay doctor I highly recommend you scrutinize the process you go through when it comes to choosing a doctor. Will your chosen doctor be able to offer you the best, non biased care despite your sexuality? Will your doctor be up to date with gay and lesbian health issues? Will your doctor be truly representing your care and needs beyond the time spent in the consult rooms?

In case you are wondering if your doctor is one of this minority group, I highly suggest reviewing the Doctors For The Family submission where the names of all who signed is a matter of public record. You can down load a copy of the submission here at the Australian Senate Website.

If indeed your doctor is on this list please feel free to ask them if they are able to respresent and care for all your needs. Biological, psychological and social. If the answer is “no”, “well perhaps” or anything other than an enthusiastic yes, then it’s time to find another doctor.

Every day I will continue to do my part for gay and lesbian health.

Every day I am living by the tenet “at first do no harm”. I wonder if the doctors in the submission above can say the same.

Yours in good health.

Dr George Forgan-Smith

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