Living in Lebanon, one encounters homophobia in a lot of different settings. Fortunately, though, homophobia is not everywhere and this story is a proof of that.
After two health-related bachelor degrees, and after coming across many health care professionals during my rotations, it became pretty obvious to me that the LGBT community in Lebanon continues to be marginalized and barely mentioned in any academic or professional program in Lebanon. Health care professionals in Lebanon know little about the LGBT community.
However, I was pleasantly surprised to see my interest in LGBT health receive warm support from an academic program in the heart of Beirut.
I am a Masters of Public Health student at the University of Balamand in Achrafieh. And, with the purpose of eliminating social and health disparities of a specific community in Lebanon, I chose to write a research paper about LGBT people.
My research revealed that homophobia and stigma, along with the lack of training of the health care professionals, have a big impact on the health status of this community.
In addition, I concluded the paper with a proposal to reduce those health disparities including recommendations for education and awareness about LGBT health and a plan to amend and then annul the article 534 of the Lebanese penal code that punishes unnatural sex by imprisonment and is inappropriately used to criminalize non-heterosexuality.
Moreover, we will soon be addressing the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity, as social/ behavioral determinants of health, in class. In other words, we’ll be discussing the health inequities that are proper to the LGBT community. I hope that my MPH program will remainLGBT inclusive in future courses so that we can cover all aspects of this subject. This will make sure that LGBT people are no longer marginalized in health related curricula.
For that, it is my personal impression that the MPH program at Balamand is LGBT-friendly and has the potential of training competent public health professionals who understand and embrace diversity in our society. It is also my personal impression that this program can be a scientific platform for everyone whatever their personal opinions or views might be.
MPH student – Balamand University