A same-sex couple has filed a human rights complaint against a south Winnipeg doctor, claiming she refused to take them as patients and told them she doesn't know how to treat lesbians. Andrea and Ginette Markowski, who recently moved to Winnipeg from Yellowknife, were stunned when a family doctor at Lakewood Medical Centre suggested the couple look for another physician since homosexuality violates her religious beliefs. The legally married couple also claim the doctor said she has no experience treating lesbians. Andrea Markowski said she and her partner of 18 years made an appointment with Dr. Kamelia Elias after they heard she was accepting new patients. She said Elias started to take the couple's medical history and asked how long the women had been together - at which point, the doctor told them she's never treated lesbians before. Markowski said she asked Elias whether treating a same-sex couple was a problem for her, and alleges Elias said yes. Elias told the Free Press she has no experience treating lesbians and gays who sometimes have "sexual problems" and other diseases. Elias practised medicine in Egypt before spending four years in Steinbach and said she's never treated gays or lesbians in her two decades as a physician. "They get a lot of diseases and infections," Elias said during a phone interview. "I didn't refuse to treat them, I said it's better to find someone who has experience and will take this type of patients. There (are) some doctors who can treat them." College registrar Bill Pope said the orientation process for international medical graduates has been recently extended from one week to four weeks, to ensure that foreign-trained doctors learn about Canadian culture and codes of conduct. In some cases, Pope said some physicians have never performed pelvic exams on women, since it's not allowed in certain cultures. He said an increasing number of physicians coming to Manitoba are from the Middle East and southeast Asia, where cultural barriers may hinder their understanding of Canadian norms. "It was becoming clear that we're getting people from cultures that are very different from (ours), and you can't blame someone when your culture teaches you one thing, you can't understand what the expectations are in Canada," Pope said.
Thanks goes to Vladimir for emailing me the link to this news story.