There is something seriously wrong with the world. There have been strong hints for a while now: Chump in the White House, experts not being required by MPs, being told that a majority of people voted to leave the EU, that lord of 17th-century foppery Jacob Rees-Mogg being touted as the frontrunner to be the next unelected prime minster, and nuclear war being seen as a good idea.
But there can be no louder alarm than me agreeing with something in the Daily Mail, or one of its offshoots. Not to mention Rees-Mogg – again!
Maybe I’m just being hugely dim – I haven’t had much in the way of holidays this year – but I cannot see the reason why, after April 2019, my GP is going to be required to ask me my sexuality and, unless they have access to my notes, so will any other doctor I happen to see, whether it be for an ingrowing toenail or after being rushed to A&E.
As it happens, my GP knows I’m gay. It’s come up before and I had no problem telling her. But I don’t like being told that I have to answer a question about my sexuality. It’s true that anyone over the age of 16 who is asked can refuse to answer but even that will be recorded in their notes and anyone reading those would make an inference from a refusal to state that you are straight. And, yes, a patient can lie, but it’s one thing being in the closet but quite another to deny your true self.
One of the reasons given for the question – and thankfully here I can disagree with the fascists at the Mail that it’s a diktat: the morons there try to give anything they disagree with a Commie-sounding spin as if it was still the 1950s – is to ensure LGBT+ people are not discriminated against. But how can anyone discriminate against me if they don’t know I’m gay?
More importantly, in an age where even the Pentagon can be hacked, how long until we get the first GP’s surgery or major hospital “losing” this data? As I said, I’m happy for my doctor to have this information, I’m less happy about it being sold on the internet which could affect future job or visa applications, credit-worthiness, or, for some people, opening up the risk of blackmail.
All this doesn’t even take into account teenagers scared that the information will somehow get back to their parents or if they are already struggling with their sexuality.
Proponents say the question will help tailor services to LGBT people’s needs, but are the benefits really worth the potential pitfalls? And at any rate, shouldn’t a good doctor be tailoring services to a individual patients’ needs already, on an informal basis?
There is one final fear that I just cannot make go away. What happens if, god forbid, LGBT+ rights are pushed back and a new disease appears that’s branded a new ‘Gay Plague’? What happens then, when health officials have a recorded declaration that you are gay?
So, please, please tell me I’ve missed something here and help me get back to being able to hate every poisonous word that appears in the Daily Mail.
Words: Hugh Kaye