In general, medical care in Iraq isn’t the best compared to other countries and with having homophobia spread among doctors, nurses, and pharmacists who work in the hospitals, the medical needs of the Iraqi LGBT+ community are rarely met.
When we talk about health issues, we don’t mean simple tooth pain or flu. LGBT+ members need surgeries, STD tests, or mental health services that are unavailable anywhere in the country. For that, most homosexuals avoid visiting doctors or when they do, they avoid telling them about their sexuality because some doctors don’t only refuse to offer their help but also put the patients in more trouble and cause stress by insulting them or threatening them.
IraQueer tells the story of two Iraqi doctors who are willing to offer their medical help to all Iraqis from the LGBT+ community and they hope that their help is going to solve some problems and inspire other doctors to start offering the same kind of help.
Dr. Angelo (Fake name) is an Iraqi medical student, who studies General Medicine and Surgery at the University of Baghdad, tells his story of how he started offering help to the LGBT+ community.
“About eight years ago, I started my journey as an advocate in multiple organizations like World Merit. During that time I used to provide advices and spread awareness among LGBT+ people who were mostly relatives. That moral support then grew to become something different after I became a medical student which was five years ago. After gaining experience, I started providing my medical consult to the ones who need it and regardless of their sexuality.
As a doctor who lives and works in a country where homosexuality is illegal, there have been times when I witnessed the fear that transgender men dealt with as they came to the hospital to get some help. Some of them had feminine qualities which made other people easily notice them and treat them badly for that. Other than being afraid, they were ashamed of being transgender and too shy to deal with other people while some of them denied being trans when they get diagnosed with AIDS.
As a homosexual doctor, I fully understand why they felt this way. I’m also unable to tell anyone in my workplace about my sexuality because I know very well that many problems will follow if I was honest about it. One way for me to keep offering my help to the LGBT+ community is by providing it online. This way I make sure that we all are safe.
LGBT+ people aren’t asking for any special medical care! All they need is to be offered what other Iraqis get already. People from the community are exposed to all kinds of infections and STDs, so they must get primary medical care which is every citizen’s right.
I advise all members of the Iraqi LGBT+ community to take care of themselves. Their physical health affects not only their average age but also every other aspect of their lives. It also affects the ones they love so please if you feel sick, don’t hesitate to get the proper medical help you need. And if you were too afraid to visit the hospital, we hope that we’ll form a group of doctors who are part of the community or allies who can offer you the help you need directly or by connecting you to other doctors and pharmacists and hospitals that welcome you. Again, your health matters.
After I graduate, and whether I’m inside Iraq or abroad, I’m willing to dedicate all my knowledge and time to help the LGBT+ community because I understand the difficulty of getting a proper help. I will be glad to offer my medical help to all of you so if you have any questions or concerns about your health, contact IraQueer so they can connect you to me.”
David (Fake name) is an Iraqi General Practitioner and a homosexual man. David’s journey started as several people from the LGBT+ community reached out to him to ask about their health problems that were related to their sexualities or their sexual practices. David says that the ones who asked him for help were too afraid to check with another doctor because of their worries that the doctor would turn to be homophobic.
“I noticed that the LGBT+ community was lacking the proper medical services, including the very basic and simple ones so that was the beginning of my journey to becoming a doctor who offers these services.
Throughout my experience, I noticed that the quality of the medical services varies based on the sexuality of the patient. The type of medical service, the way the patient is treated, and the treatment that is given to the patient all vary significantly based on their sexuality.
Unfortunately, homophobia is common among health personnel including doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and so on. And that homophobia makes some of the medical service providers use the power they have to threaten LGBT+ members on social media or use bad language with them.
My advice to you if you’re an LGBT+ member is to choose your doctor carefully. In case you’re able to reach out to a doctor from the community or a doctor who’s open-minded, then that would be the best choice to go with.
If not, try as much as you can to avoid talking about your sexuality or anything that could make the doctor know about it, deny being queer, and/or deny that you had sex because in most cases, these details aren’t in any way related to the diagnose or the treatment, so focus more on the symptoms and mention them in detail and leave everything else aside.
I am happy to offer my medical help to anyone from the LGBT+ community within my authority as a General Practitioner and for health issues related to both the physical and the psychological health.”
How to ask for medical help from IraQueer:
IraQueer wishes all the members of the LGBT+ community a healthy and safe life. Being a member of the community in Iraq isn’t easy that’s why IraQueer is trying hard to create a safe space for you all. We are here to help any of you who’s in need for an urgent medical help that may not be provided in any hospital. In order for us to offer you the help you need, send us an email or a message to our official accounts on social media and tell us what your health issues is and what kind of help you need.