In Los Angeles, of all places, a man is suing his doctor and healthcare network for documenting his homosexuality as a “chronic problem” in his health records.
46-year-old Matthew Moore, who is openly gay, says that after a routine physical in April, 2013, Dr. Elaine Jones of the Torrance Health Association listed “homosexual behavior” as a “chronic condition” in his file. She later changed the terminology to a “chronic problem,” which isn’t any better.
According to NBC4 in Los Angeles:
“It was infuriating. It was painful,” he said of his decision to sue. “It was another attempt by this doctor and this medical group to impose their agenda of discrimination and hate onto a gay patient.”
The diagnosis was classified under ICD Code 302.0, the designation for homosexuality under the broader category “sexual deviations and disorders.” Homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973 and is clearly not considered a disease by the vast majority of medical practitioners in the United States. Moore went home rightly outraged, mulled it over with friends, and then returned to confront the doctor.
“When I looked up Code 302.0 and it’s sexual deviancy or mental illness, and that code has been removed or suggested heavily not to be used since 1973,” Moore said in 2013. “My jaw was on the floor. At first, I kind of laughed, I thought, ‘Here’s another way that gay people are lessened and made to feel less-than,’ and then as I thought about it and as I dealt with it, it angered me.” …
When he asked the doctor how he could treat homosexuality, she said that it “is still up to debate” and that being gay is “still being thought of as a disease,” Moore said.
He wrote a letter of complaint to the Torrance Memorial Health Association and received a prompt apology:
“We would like to unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition, and we do not endorse or approve of the use of Code 302.0 as a diagnosis for homosexuality,” Torrance Health Association Senior Director Heidi Assigal wrote to Moore.
The association also issued a media statement saying the designation had been used as a result of “human error” and claiming that “upon notification by the patient the record was corrected.”
At this point, Moore assumed everything was taken care of. But when he received a copy of his medical records this past May, “homosexual behavior” was still listed under “chronic problems.”
Now Moore is suing his doctor and the health network, alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress and libel. The health network, meanwhile, continues to attribute the problem to human error.
On August 6, the defendants’ attorneys filed a motion to strike, arguing that Moore’s complaints were “vague and ambiguous.” The Torrance Memorial Physicians Network also blame the error on “highly complex software” used in creating the record.
But Moore’s not buying it. He said that he believed Dr. Jones felt homosexuality was a problem, adding that, “I don’t want any gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual [person] ever to hear from a doctor that their normal and healthy sexuality is anything other than that,” said Moore, noting that suicides among LGBT youth is higher than other groups. “Maybe we all just saved a life today.”
Claiming homosexuality is an illness is the number one way right-wingers have attempted to justify firing, imprisoning and even killing off LGBT people across the world. Maybe this egregious oversight was a clerical error, as the network claims, but when a doctor stumbles over her words to say that she still considers homosexuality a disease, we have a serious problem. Thankfully Matthew has the means to speak out, protect himself and help others avoid this awful situation in the future; not everyone is so lucky.
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