Friday, January 30, 2009

Manitoba Doctor Refuses Treatment To Lesbians

Andrea Markowski and her wife Ginette were shocked to discover that despite legal same gender marriage in Canada, homophobia continues to plague the great white north.   According to News Talk radio the pair were stunned when they were told by Dr. Kamelia Elias that she was uncomfortable treating them. 

Dr. Kamelia Elias told the Winnipeg Free Press that she has no experience treating gays and lesbians who have "sexual problems" and "a lot of diseases and infections."

"I said it's better to find someone who has experience and will take this type of patients," she told the newspaper.

Markowski and her wife have rightfully filed a claim with the province's human rights commission and the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons.  They are quick to point out that Dr. Kamelia Elias is Egyptian and therefore is a foreign trained doctor. 

"The College of Physicians and Surgeons in Manitoba and other places in Canada has to broaden the way that it assesses the skills - particularly of foreign doctors who may be coming from places where beliefs and norms are quite different - to make sure that they really are able to practise the physical, mental and emotional care of patients."

Translation: We should make sure that these foreigners know that their beliefs are wrong.  How dare they hold onto their ignorance when they come to our socially progressive and enlightened country.

The head of Canada's gay-rights organization said transgendered people are sometimes denied health care. But Helen Kennedy with EGALE said this is the first instance she's heard of involving a lesbian.

As the number of foreign-trained doctors in Canada increases, it's incumbent upon colleges and the country's Immigration Department to ensure they accept gay, lesbian and transgendered patients, she said.

"This is really sad. It really shows a bigger problem with people who are medically trained coming to Canada from other cultures. There is nothing in place to assist them to make the adjustment and to get the training that they need when they come here."

Yep, it’s only those “other” people that are homophobic.  We do allow gay marriage in this country and therefore we know that “real Canadians” don’t harbour any resentment towards the GLBT community, only the darkies from the unevolved places. 

It continually amazes me that people are more than willing to use one ism to fight another.  Dr. Kamelia  is clearly homophobic and her actions were wrong; however treating this incident as representative of the attitudes of immigrants to Canada is ridiculous.  The idea that they need to be schooled in “Canadian values” when so called Canadian values include the very homophobia displayed by Dr. Kamelia is being ignored to uphold the notion that we are somehow more evolved.  We have a very strong conservative element who if given their way would happily revoke every single right that the GLBT community and its allies have struggled for decades to attain.  Lets stop pretending that those Muslims, or those brown peoples are an ignorant hateful mass, when our own Prime Minister is not in favour of gay marriage. 

Homophobia like any other ism is systemic; it is not the preserve of a certain element of the population.  Brown people do not need to be specially schooled out of our ignorance.  Our entire society is organized to privilege certain identities to maintain our social hierarchy.   Have we had an openly gay Prime Minister?  Ummm no and it is not the fault of the brown people, it is because heterosexuality remains overly privileged in Canadian society. 

I fully stand with EAGLE to ensure that all Canadians are not only respected but that their legal rights are not in anyway invalidated however, if the approach is going to use racism to end homophobia, I must point out that this  only supports  hierarchy,  and reinforces the very kind of binary modernist thinking that allows the isms to flourish in our home and native land.  If we want the medical establishment to treat all people equally then it should be standard training for ALL physicians.  


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