Today’s Moron: Dr. Kamelia Elias

January 27, 2009

This one really rankles me. How can someone go through medical school and practise medicine for 20 years and still be this stupid?

When Andrea and Ginette Markowski, a same-sex married couple in Winnipeg, heard Dr. Elias was accepting new patients, they made an appointment and went to meet her (doctor shortages are a chronic problem in Canada; many people don’t have family doctors, and when a GP starts accepting patients, there’s usually a rush).

During their interview, the Markowskis say, Dr. Elias told them she had no experience treating lesbians, and they would be better off finding a doctor with relevant experience. What? So they’ve filed a complaint with our human rights commission, which investigations allegations of rights abuses.

All of this sits firmly in the “alleged” file, until you open today’s Winnipeg Free Press and see an interview with Dr. Elias. This is what she said:

“They get a lot of diseases and infections. 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.”

Elias said lesbians and gays sometimes develop “sexual problems” and other diseases that she would be unable to treat, and she has never treated homosexuals in 20 years of medical practice. It was not made clear whether she asked every patient about their orientation. She just seems to know.

Canada’s human rights laws forbid doctors from discriminating based on sexual orientation (or on any other grounds). They’re also not supposed to pick and choose patients (but a lot of them do it, and we know they do it, and they know we know but don’t care, because they’re doctors). So the Markowskis have a case, I’d say.

I suspect there’s a cultural issue at work here. Dr. Elias is from Egypt, and Canada is seeing an influx of new doctors from all over the world. In many of these countries, old taboos are still in play, and they might be arriving on Canadian shores along with these doctors. So maybe that’s a factor. After careful consideration, this is my opinion on that subject: Bullshit.

We’re Canada. We are a multicultural mosaic and we are proud of that; I live within a hundred-mile radius of food, music, dance and culture from hundreds of countries. And I like that. I don’t like these old-world attitudes being brought here, though. Part of coming to Canada means incorporating those customs into that mosaic while accepting the way things are here and adjusting those beliefs. I’m not talking about assimilation, I’m talking about adaptation.

I hope the Markowskis find a doctor soon. And I hope Dr. Elias wakes up and stops being so close-minded. We need her.

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  1. I sent a fax to this “doctor” as I was shocked to hear about her ignorance and prejudice. In closing, I said “I pray that you never, on Canadian soil, experience the same bigotry, intolerance and ignorance that you have shown to two of your Canadian sisters.
    I’m with the writer – this is bullshit.

  2. I’m surprised anyone is surprised at this. This is precisely what happens when the hard-won world of western liberal democratic tolerance invites immigration from the pools of ignorance, bigotry and INTOLERANCE omnipresent in an Islamic culture (in this case Egypt). Anyone who has studied Islam in depth is well aware that it is wholly incompatible with, and inimical to, western notions of democracy, human rights, and in particular womens’ rights and gay rights. May I suggest some time spent reading at http://www.jihadwatch.org/islam101 as a primer. It is time we living in “dar al harb” began paying attention to the goals of those among our midst who hail from “dar-al-Islam”. Pay particular note to the concepts of “taqqiya” and “kitman” and you will see where this “doctor” is coming from, culturally speaking.

  3. Have you ever considered that her response in the free press may be tainted by a language barrier? It’s unfair to berate this women based on inflammatory comments the Free Press chose to publish.

  4. The doctor did not refuse to treat either woman. As a matter of fact she started to treat both of them. They asked her if her religious beliefs made her comfortable with their sexual orientation. She answered honestly about her beliefs. Many other religions think homosexuality is wrong. I think both women want to make their own statement and get publicity. Don’t ask someone what they believe if you don’t want an honest answer or can’t handle an answer that goes against what you believe!

  5. Su – those are some ignorant and inflammatory remarks on Islam. Citing a radical website is also way off base. The Doctor’s religious practice was not clarified. For the record though, she isn’t even Muslim.

    She didn’t refuse to treat either of them. In fact, she advised them to seek another physician. Nowhere in that is a denial of medical services.

    And to recap:
    discriminating against someone’s sexuality = intolerance.
    discriminating against someone’s religious beliefs = tolerant.

  6. My only concern is whether or not Dr Elias facilitated their search for a family doctor, given the shortage and her unwillingness and/or inability to provide appropriate health care.

    Otherwise it may also be a reason to file a complaint with the provincial medical association.

  7. In reading the multiple articles since written about the incident between Dr. Elias and Ginette and Andrea Markowski, I have found it odd, in every article written there is no mention that Dr. Elias would not or could not have Ginette or Andrea as patients of hers.

    She states that she is inexperienced in her treatment of those who are gay or lesbian. Dr. Elias had the courage to state up front what her religious beliefs are, which is not a discrimination against Ginette nor Andrea, rather she is stating her own “human right” to an opinion because of her religious belief. This is in no way a discrimination toward Ginette or Andrea. No where did I read that she was saying that she would not have them as clients. She even said that she would refer the two of them to another physician. Dr. Elias did not have to be upfront, she could have just taken them on as patients, but really, would that have been in the best interest of Ginette and Andrea? If I was gay, I certainly would want someone who is comfortable in treating me, who understood my issues. I wouldn’t want someone who doesn’t know how to care for me in ways that I needed, or would be uncomfortable in seeing me as a patient.

    I wonder how many other people who even say they are uncomfortable in a situation, will have a human rights violation filed against them. Does everyone have to be “comfortable” in situations? Could there rather be an extending of a hand full of grace for people who have not arrived yet? In reading the articles, it sounds like Ginette and Andrea have been hurt before, have some anger toward anyone who may not accept them 100%. I hope that Ginette and Andrea would come to know that not everyone is out to get them, or discriminate against them. That people are people first, be they doctors, lawyers, dentists, bus drivers etc etc. Everyone has grown to be who they are through life experiences, some with a broader life experience than others. There has to be some level of grace when we walk with people. In all the articles, what came out was that Dr. Elias walked in that grace, even though, noticeably uncomfortable, given her background and upbringing. Being uncomfortable is not a violation of human rights…it is rather, an expression of inexperience and lack of knowledge. Do Ginette and Andrea have grace that could be extended to someone such as Dr. Elias? Just as they would like grace extended to them?

  8. I think many of you are missing the obvious point here. From a medical standpoint what possible difference is there between a straight woman and a lesbian? If this doctor truly believes that her medical training is inadequate for treating lesbians, then perhaps a course of remedial medicine, and not cultural sensitivity, is in order.

  9. She ought to be sued and her medical license removed.

  10. Dr. Kamelia Elias is Christian, by the way. Also, I’m sure that is she had known it was illegal, she wouldn’t have done it this way. She would have done it the sneaky, American way i.e. making up a legal reason to refuse them as patients. Anyway, sneaky or obvious way: It was wrong.

  11. I don’t think it was even really a matter of active, conscious bias. She was just so clueless about gays and lesbians (and clueless about the fact that they have the same health issues, including sexual health issues, as anyone else) that she thought you had to be some kind of specialist to treat them. That’s silly. Doctors should be better informed.

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