LGBTQ+ equality in medicine

The BMA and GLADD (The Association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists) highlight the experiences of LGBTQ+ doctors in the NHS and the medical profession.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Last reviewed: 13 May 2022
Discrimination crossed out circle illustration

Doctors come from a broad cross section of backgrounds, experiences, sexual orientations and gender identities. Discrimination, whether from patients or from colleagues, has a detrimental impact on doctors’ lives.

The BMA is clear that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity has no place in the medical profession. We are committed to promoting equal rights and opportunities, proactively tackling discrimination or disadvantage in all forms, and creating an open and inclusive culture for all our members, staff and stakeholders.

 

LGBTQ+ people in the medical profession

The BMA is working to understand and improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ medics in education, training and the workplace. In 2016, we worked with GLADD (The Association of LGBTQ+ Doctors and Dentists) and the Labour Research Department, an independent trade union research organisation, to look at the experiences of lesbian, gay and bisexual doctors in the NHS.

Containing 21 powerful case studies describing the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual medics, the report showed that over 70 per cent had experienced homophobic or biphobic abuse at their place of work or study.

Key 2016 survey findings

  • Over 70 per cent of those surveyed said they had endured one or more types of experience short of harassment or abuse in the last two years related to their sexual orientation. These ranged from feeling unable to talk about their private life at one end of the spectrum to homophobic name-calling at the other.
  • More than one in 10 (12 per cent) said they had experienced at least one form of harassment or abuse at their place of work or study. Incidents included psychological or emotional abuse, verbal attacks, threats of violence and abuse on social media.
  • More than one in 10 (12 per cent) felt they had suffered some form of discrimination in their employment or studies as a result of being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Areas of discrimination identified varied widely but most common were having fewer opportunities than colleagues/fellow students and finding problems with the provision of pastoral support.
  • Only a quarter of those feeling they had suffered harassment/abuse reported it to someone senior.
  • Only a fifth of those feeling discriminated against attempted to take the matter further to try to get it resolved.

Updating the evidence base

We are now working with GLADD to expand our understanding of the issues that LGBTQ+ medics face today. This includes an updated survey launched earlier this year which sought to capture views on what has changed since our last report and what action is needed to tackle ongoing discrimination. This survey specifically looked to gather new information on the experiences of transgender and non-binary medics, and was open to doctors and medical students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The survey looked at:

  • Perceptions of how LGBTQ+ inclusive the medical profession is
  • Types of experiences that LGBTQ+ medics face
    What support is currently available to LGBTQ+ people in education and the workplace
  • Examples of good practice and areas for further action

The survey is now closed and we will be publishing the key findings and priority areas for action in the coming months.

Read more about the survey

Our voices

The Chair of the BMA Representative Body wrote about why this work is important to us as an organisation.

You may also be interested in these blogs from LGBTQ+ colleagues:

 

Promoting LGBTQ+ equality

The BMA has numerous policies affirming our support for LGBTQ+ individuals. Our recent work in this area includes:

Reform of the Gender Recognition Act

We submitted written and oral evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee inquiry on reform of the Gender Recognition Act.

Read our submission

Supporting the ban on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for LGBTQ+ people

We have called on the UK Government for a total ban on so-called conversion therapy as an unethical and damaging practice.

Read our consultation response