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UK Medical Regulator Apologizes for Previous Homophobia Against Medical Professionals

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The General Medical Council (GMC), the UK’s medical regulator, has made history by formally apologizing for its previous prejudice against gay doctors. The GMC acknowledged the harm that its actions had caused and expressed sincere remorse for them.

The apology coincides with the GMC’s admission that it had a role in the persecution of male medics found guilty of having consensual sex with other men. Remarkably, documents show that eight physicians had their careers essentially ended when they were wrongfully removed from the medical register. The last erasure took place in 1966, the year before gay conduct in England and Wales were decriminalized.

The GMC’s chair, Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, stressed the harm that homophobic legislation and attitudes—which lingered far into the 1980s—caused to LGBTQ+ healthcare professionals, both personally and professionally. “We further exacerbated that harm by pursuing additional regulatory action against those who were registered physicians,” she said. We are really sorry about this.”

Gladd, The Association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists, represented by Dr. Duncan McGregor, praised the apology as a critical first step in righting historical wrongs. He emphasized the significance of admitting past wrongs and the significant effect the GMC’s actions had on the lives of the impacted professionals.

Although the apology is a step in the right direction, discrimination against LGBTQ+ healthcare workers still exists, which presents difficulties. Recognizing the work done by the GMC’s LGBTQ+ staff network in coordinating the apology, Dr. McGregor expressed the hope that the gesture may provide comfort to the impacted professionals and their families.

The apology was warmly received by Ms. Ginny Bowbrick, chair of the Pride in Surgery Forum (Prism) of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, who saw it as a momentous admission of the unfair judgments that have impacted a great number of medical professionals. She did, however, stress that there is still more to be done to attain real equity for LGBTQ+ workers in the medical industry.

The apology from the GMC highlights the continuous fight for equality and acceptance in the medical community and is a critical first step toward healing.

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