Dr. Rainbow Scheme
Due to the lack of legal protection and social stigma towards sexual minorities in Hong Kong, many gay people choose to hide their sexual orientation when they seek medical assistance. Often they are unsure whether their disclosure would bring them substandard care or discrimination. This is a problem because disclosure of sexual orientation can be crucial for the diagnosis of some illnesses, like STDs (sexually-transmitted diseases) and mental health challenges associated with sexual identity and discrimination, and gay people’s reluctance to disclose in front of healthcare professionals might affect the accurate medical diagnosis and treatment. Sadly, AIDS Concern hears that some gay people choose not to seek medical help in fear of stigmatization and let their health conditions deteriorate.
According to AIDS Concern’s frontline experience and research, 9% of gay men would not seek medical services related to sexual health for fear of disclosing their sexual orientation. 20% of them do not seek medical assistance for fear of disclosing their sexuality. 55% of the gay men would hide their sexual orientation and avoid talking about their homosexual practices when they seek the above medical services. We believe that stigma associated with the gay identity is a major barrier to effective HIV prevention and treatment as an unfriendly social environment deters people from seeking medical assistance.
To improve the physical health of sexual minorities, AIDS Concern is now launching a ‘Dr. Rainbow Scheme’. We encourage doctors to join our scheme to learn more about gay people’s culture and healthcare concerns. We are educating doctors about skills for gay friendly consultation by inviting them to attend our ‘Gay-friendly Healthcare Training Workshop’ or ‘Gay-friendly Healthcare Webinar’ to have more effective and sensitive communication with their gay patients.
Moreover, to reduce gay people’s fear of stigmatization and improve their access to healthcare, AIDS Concern will also promote the scheme in the community through different channels on the internet and large gay events. The promotional materials will not display the name or service information of the doctors who have participated in the scheme but the doctors’ names and specialty will be displayed in the AIDS Concern website. If you would like to know more about our scheme or tips on gay-friendly practices, please refer to the gay-friendly doctor handbook for more details.
AIDS Concern hopes that doctors’ commitment to gay-friendly medical services will contribute to the health of the local gay community. Should you have any enquiries, please feel free to contact Miss Sabrina Chan or Mr Norman Kwan at 2898 4411.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I know which doctors have already joined the scheme?
You may refer to the highlights of our ‘Gay-Friendly Healthcare Workshop’ here.
2. I’m a doctor who would like to join the scheme, what should I do?
If you are interested in joining the above scheme, please click on the following link (https://youtu.be/8zKLfQJvaX4) to attend the ‘Gay-friendly Healthcare Webinar’, where you could learn more about gay people’s culture, healthcare concerns, and ways to increase sensitivity in consultation. You only need to fill in a short form after attending the webinar to let us know you have understood the information.
Your name and specialty will also be displayed on AIDS Concern website in the list of doctors who have joined our ‘Gay-friendly Healthcare Workshop’ in the highlights. However, none of the promotional materials related to this scheme will display your name or service information. Please note that AIDS Concern will not make any representation to the qualifications or competence of the doctors listed or provide any medical advice in any materials related in this scheme.
3. I know that there are some doctors who might be interested in joining this scheme, what should I do?
If you know any doctors who you think might be interested in joining our scheme, please do not hesitate to share this information with them and encourage them to join, so that more gay people could also be free of the fear of stigmatization and discrimination when seeking medical services. You could also contact Miss Sabrina Chan or Mr. Norman Kwan on 2898 4411 to let us know the name and basic service information of the doctor, so that we can further contact and invite them to join our scheme.
4. If I am discriminated against by a doctor because of my sexual orientation, what can I do?
According to the International Code of Medical Ethics, ‘a physician shall not permit considerations of…sexual orientation… to intervene between [his/her] duty and [his/her] patient’. Also, ‘he/she shall not allow his/her judgment to be influenced by…unfair discrimination’.
Therefore, if you are discriminated against by any registered doctor because of your sexual orientation, you can make a complaint to the Medical Council of Hong Kong. The Medical Council will have regard to the International Code in the exercise of its disciplinary power to registered medical practitioners in Hong Kong. To know more about the complaint procedures, you may refer to our leaflet (in Chinese only) or http://www.mchk.org.hk/complain/index.htm, or contact the Medical Council of Hong Kong on 2873 5131.
Also, we encourage you to share your experience of being discriminated against to AIDS Concern. We will share your experience anonymously to the doctors who participate in our workshop to let them know the importance of gay-friendly healthcare. Nothing is more powerful than your real-life story in gay-friendly healthcare training!
The scheme is sponsored by the Equal Opportunities (Sexual Orientation) Funding Scheme. Any contents of this material/any activities organized under this project do not represent the position of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.