Doctors come out in support of medical rights for LGBT

Nur Ilyani’s open letter in Facebook touched on issues of blood transfusion, sexuality, and religion.
Nur Ilyani’s open letter in Facebook touched on issues of blood transfusion, sexuality, and religion.

PETALING JAYA, Aug 9 — Malaysian physicians took to social media to remind colleagues of their Hippocratic oath after a purported doctor triggered controversy over blood donations from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

They were responding to remarks by a Nur Ilyani Mohamed Nawawi, who claims to be a doctor, contained in an open letter to Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir in which the former insinuated that blood from LGBT donors was suspect.

Nur Ilyani’s post was later deleted by Facebook for violating community guidelines, but not before it triggered a heated discussion over the issue.

A resident medical officer, Dr Mohd Syamirulah Rahim, argued that a donor’s sexual orientation did not alter standard testing for donated blood as all must be properly screened before they are cleared for use.

“All donations, regardless of the donor’s acknowledgments or disclaimers, will be tested for HIV and other transmissible diseases. So the question of ‘would you be okay if an LGBT person donated blood to your family?’ is moot,” Dr Syamirulah said in a Facebook post.

Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman also criticised Nur Ilyani for the insinuation.

Dr Adeeba reminded Nur Ilyani of the Declaration of Geneva, otherwise known as the Physician’s Pledge, which outlines a humanitarian approach to medicine that does not discriminate against a patient’s social identity.

“Dr Nur Ilyani, instead of all this self-righteousness and disdain towards people who are not like you, perhaps you might want to understand them better, have a little compassion and take some time to learn more about HIV,” she wrote.

There has been increased attention on the LGBT community and related issues in recent weeks.

Prior to Nur Ilyani’s letter, Malay vernacular newspaper Utusan Malaysia published articles alleging a rise in LGBT numbers, which it spuriously linked to increasing HIV infection rates.

Islamic affairs minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa also ordered two portraits of prominent LGBT activists removed from the George Town Festival for “promoting LGBT activities” this week.

Before that, fast food chain Pizza Hut and local celebrity Datuk Afdlin Shauki were both criticised over unrelated tweets deemed to belittle the LGBT community.

Pizza Hut has apologised and claimed it dismissed the social media agency responsible for the offending tweet. Afdlin also apologised and accepted responsibility for the post made by his social media administrator.

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