In Lebanon, LGBT individuals do not have access to equitable health care. In 2010, a study revealed that 70% of physicians believe that homosexuality is a disease and 50% of them wouldn’t provide services to a homosexual client.
In an unpublished study that the Lebanese Medical Association for Sexual Health (LebMASH) conducted early in 2017 and another in January 2018, LGBT individuals reported homophobia, transphobia and breaches of confidentiality within the healthcare system. They also reported a reduced access to care closely linked to negative experiences at health care institutions. Additionally, it was shown that LGBT individuals are at an increased risk of mental health conditions and other less than optimal general health outcomes.
In the January 2018 study, we focused on assessing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) practices in Lebanon. Study revealed that health care professionals, especially mental health experts, rely on counseling and sometimes prescription of hormones to “change” one’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual leading to devastating mental health outcomes. This practice has been discredited and prohibited by both international and national health authorities. The study also showed that one of the first groups to refer lesbian and gay young adolescents to undergo SOCE are school nurses and other healthcare professionals at school.
In an effort to put an end to SOCE in Lebanon, one of our main objectives is to educate mental health providers on the futility and harms of SOCE in addition to basic concepts of LGBT health and sexual health.
The LGBT Mental Health Training
In collaboration with the National Mental Health Program at the Ministry of Public Health, and in line with the program’s mental health strategy, LebMASH developed the LGBT Mental Health Training module and launched it in June 2018.
As of August 6th 2018, LebMASH has delivered 2 Training of Trainers sessions and 15 training sessions reaching close to 200 health care professionals in Lebanon.
This training covers the following topics:
⦁ Introduction to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
⦁ Mental Health Needs of LGBT Individuals in Lebanon
⦁ Sexual Orientation Change Efforts in Lebanon
⦁ Best Practices Guidelines for LGBT Individuals in Lebanon
⦁ F.A.Q.: LGBT Individuals and/or their Families