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Where closeted LGBT health professionals turn for support in Hong Kong

Where closeted LGBT health professionals turn for support in Hong Kong

Screenshot from a AIDS Concern video promoting LGBTI-inclusive healthcare in Hong Kong (Photo: YouTube)

Like many LGBT Hong Kong health professionals William, who is gay, is not out at work.

‘People are old fashioned here and there is a lot of politics going on, it’s a concern that I might face a backlash [if I come out]’ he told Gay Star News.

But, since last year, he has found community in the Hong Kong LGBT Medical Society.

‘We usually hang out and chat about work things’ he told Gay Star News.

‘It gives us a good platform to discuss how we handle some funny questions in the workplace like “hey, where is your girlfriend?”’.

The group’s membership has expanded from 3 to 60 in its first year.

Hong Kong’s traditional, family-orientated society means many LGBTI citizens remain in the closet.

The city offers no anti-discrimination protections and prohibits same-sex marriage.

Inclusive Hong Kong

Dr Winston Goh founded the group with two colleagues. He realized there was a lack of representation for LGBT healthcare professionals in Hong Kong.

‘We provide a safe environment for LGBTI health individuals to come together and get to know each other,’ he told Gay Star News.

The society aims for greater inclusion and diversity in the medical profession. It wants every LGBT medical professional to be able to bring their true selves to work.

‘There are only a handful of out LGBTI medical professionals in Hong Kong’ said Goh.

The way to change that is visibility, he explained. ‘Diversity and inclusion is important in any type of profession but particularly important in the healthcare profession because health care by nature is very personable.’

On the other hand, the group wants to make Hong Kong healthcare better for LGBT citizens.

LGBTI-inclusive healthcare is not well taught in Hong Kong, says Goh. LGBTI patients have a varied experience — they may face stigma or discrimination.

A 2015 survey found 55% of gay men hid their sexual orientation when seeking sexual health-related services. Meanwhile, 20% said they would not seek medical help because of their sexual orientation.

‘If health care providers are not sensitive to their verbal and nonverbal cues and underlying stressors that drive individuals to seek healthcare, it affects the client-provider relationship and ultimately affects the road to recovery’ explained Goh.