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Disclosure of sexual preferences and lesbian, gay, and bisexual practitioners

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 20 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1211
  1. David Hughes, professor of health policy (
  1. Centre for Health Economics and Policy Studies, School of Health Science, University of Wales, Swansea SA2 8PP

    “Informed consent” needs to be balanced against “freedom from discrimination”

    In the public mind doctoring and homosexuality do not sit easily together. More than most occupations, medical practice is affected by powerful cultural stereotypes concerning the social identity of practitioners. As part of their work doctors have privileged access to their patients' bodies, and in return patients expect to know something of the social and moral character of the practitioner. In popular culture doctors have been represented as asexual or heterosexual, but rarely as a group that includes people who may have same sex relationships. We do not know how many health professionals self identify as lesbian, gay, and bisexual. Extrapolating from estimates for the general population, many commentators have quoted the figure from the American Kinsey studies of about 10%, although a recent national survey in the United Kingdom showed that only about 5% of both men and women had ever had a same sex partnership.1 2 The existence of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists in the United Kingdom and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association in the United States implies that considerable numbers of professionals are …

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