If you’re feeling unwell, please to do not travel to Bulgaria to see a doctor, because they are likely to diagnose you with an acute case of being gay.
Yup, many European medical professionals still regard homosexuality as an illness, according to a new study from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights. And oh boy, you really do not want to visit one of these doctors if you’re trans.
The study dives deep into the discrimination faced by queer people from all manner of civil servants — in law enforcement, in health, and in education. Police, for example, often dismiss hate crimes; of course there’s a lack of gender diversity in sexual education; and “there are still quite a number of healthcare professionals in several EU Member States who believe LGBT people suffer from pathological diseases.”
Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia seem to be the worst countries for LGBTs seeing treatment. (And of course American doctors are not without their problems.) But even in other countries, there’s a lack of awareness for the unique medical problems faced by queer people. About 14% of respondents said that they were asked inappropriate questions, and 8% had medical issues ignored.
“We consider that these illnesses are generated by the fact that these people had an unhappy incident during childhood,” said one nurse in Romania, “and then they try somehow to respond to this need in a different way than the other people.”
One of the primary barriers to providing quality health care to LGBT people in those countries: religion, according to the study. Christian beliefs were particularly cited as a source of ignorance and bigotry.
Recommendations for dealing with the problem include better national policy around adoption of European Union policies, as well as more tolerant political leadership (good luck with that one). And of course, the study calls for training, training, and more training.
In the mean time, if you’re in Italy and you have a sniffle, try not to sound too gay when you sneeze.