News (World)

Obtuse doctor blames gay man’s chronic back pain on sex with his husband

A doctor and a patient in an exam room
Photo: Shutterstock

A gay man with chronic back pain says a doctor blamed the ailment on the fact that he had sex with his husband.

Quebec couple Drake Jensen and Michael Morin spoke with CTV News of Montreal about their traumatizing experience meeting a new family doctor. Right off the bat, Morin said the doctor first claimed – without examining him – that he had genital warts (known medically as condyloma), a sexually transmitted infection caused by HPV. The doctor’s reasoning was that Morin had previously had a skin tag removed from what CTV described as a “sensitive area.”

Morin confirmed that he does not have genital warts and tried to get the doctor to focus on his husband’s chronic back pain, which he has dealt with for more than ten years.

“I said the pain radiates everywhere in my sit bones, and he said, ‘Oh, you have burning pain in your rectum,'” Jensen explained. “He looked at Michael, who was sitting in the chair, and he said, ‘Well, you have penile warts. You probably had sex with him and you gave him HPV. Your problem is HPV.'”

The couple then ended their visit right away. Jensen described the experience as “mentally disturbing” and said he felt “emotionally violated.”

“To be meeting it now in 2024 from a medical professional with a Hippocratic Oath is just mind-blowing,” Jensen said. “What happened that day in that office, we were both just so stunningly shocked.”

The couple has filed complaints with the Quebec College of Physicians (CMQ) and the Maniwaki CLSC (CLSCs are free clinics run by Quebec’s government).

The doctor’s name has not been publicly released.

“I can neither confirm nor deny whether this doctor has already been investigated, as investigations are confidential,” said CMQ media relations officer Leslie Labranche. “An investigation becomes public when the syndic’s office files a complaint with the disciplinary board. This doctor has not been the subject of a complaint before the disciplinary board.”

The LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Fonadtion Émergence pointed out that situations like this one are dangerous for a variety of reasons. For one, fear of this kind of discrimination stops LGBTQ+ people from seeking medical care at all. And those that do seek care may encounter obstacles that prevent them from being diagnosed correctly.

“LGBTQ phobia is reducing the lives of LGBTQ+ people in a lot of different ways,” said program manager Olivia Baker. “We think about aggression, murders, and criminalization as very obvious causes, but also not getting the medical help you need… can also have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ people’s lives.”

Jensen emphasized his belief that the Quebec doctor’s true motivation for treating them so poorly was that he didn’t want to treat them at all.

“My viewpoint on what he wanted to come out of this? He didn’t want us as patients. That’s how we both feel. He was trying to get rid of us.”

Healthcare discrimination remains a rampant problem in the United States, as well. LGBTQ+ healthcare protections have been in a tug of war for years. Rules released by the Obama administration provided those protections, but the Trump administration reversed them. Biden then reimplemented them, though in 2022, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Texas ruled against the Biden administration’s health care protections for LGBTQ+ people.

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