The Heinrich Böll Foundation, BiH Office, along with partner organisations, is implementing the project Coming out! Advocating promotion and protection of LGBT rights, financed by European Union.
As a part of this project, research in the health sector was completed, and the results of this research are published in the fifth sectoral report: Rights of LGBT Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Health (Prava LGBT osoba u Bosni i Hercegovini: Zdravstvo). Along with interviews done with the health workers, data was gathered by analysing relevant legal documents and earlier research done in this field. The incoherent political system, inconsistency of health practices, marginalization of persons with different sexual orientations, sexual and gender identities tumble down on the lives of LGBT persons when they get sick.
Through analysis of the gathered data it is shown that the situation in the health sector is not consistent in its relation to LGBT patients. Uneven professional attitudes of health workers, their (mis)interpretation of work ethics, and the lack of implementation of legal regulations, among other things, contribute to the poor functioning of the health system. Although the situation is not strictly black or white, the worrying issue is that personal values and the level of knowledge (or ignorance, in this case) of every health worker influences the professional treatment of LGBT patients.
Withholding adequate health protection because of negligence or ignorance contributes to discrimination against LGBT persons; when it comes to trans* and intersexual persons, the situation is even more specific – their sexual identities are not recognized as the norm. On the other hand, the lack of specialized programs which integrate their needs shows that there is no awareness, knowledge, or willingness to suppress marginalization motivated by homophobia.
The most important recommendations to overcome discrimination of LGBT persons in the health sector in BiH:
- All political and legislative documents should include measures to ensure equal opportunities for LGBT persons.
- Produce internal programs which integrate needs and problems of LGBT persons working in the health sector.
- Organize additional education on LGBT issues for persons working in different areas of health sector, especially trans* and intersex persons who are the most vulnerable.
- Educate medical workers that could monitor the transition processes of transexual persons and supply the necessary medical help, and later secure the medical staff to conduct complete medical procedures of sex reassignment and covering the costs of this process.
- Conduct precise documentation on the birth of intersexual babies and educate medical workers to monitor the processes these babies would possibly be subjected to.
Publication is pending, and the PDF version can be downloaded here.