Metro Weekly

Gay Couple Claims Doctor Blamed Chronic Pain on Their Sex Life

Couple say doctor at health clinic wrongly diagnosed them with a sexually transmitted disease -- without examining them -- due to being gay.

Michael Morin and Drake Jensen – Photo: Drake Jensen, via Facebook

A same-sex couple in Quebec says they believe a family doctor unfairly stereotyped and discriminated against them due to their sexual orientation, failing even to do a physical examination of one of the partners who experiences chronic pain in his lower back.

Drake Jensen and Michael Morin, who have married for 17 years, were attending their first-ever appointment with a family doctor at the Maniwaki CLSC, a local free clinic, on January 11. But they soon grew uncomfortable after the doctor — whose name has not been published — allegedly began diagnosing one of the men before he had even examined him, according to CTV News.

Jensen, a Canadian singer and LGBTQ rights activist, says the doctor looked at their charts and told his husband, “I see you have condyloma,” prompting Morin to say he didn’t know the word, which refers to genital warts caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Morin said he had seen a doctor to have a skin tag surgically removed from a sensitive area, but was never diagnosed with condolyma. 

The doctor then listened as Jensen told him about chronic back pain that he had been experiencing for over a decade, especially in his lower back and hip area.

“I said the pain radiates everywhere in my sit bones, and he said, ‘Oh, you have burning pain in your rectum,'” Jensen told CTV News. “He looked at Michael, who was sitting in the chair, and he said, ‘well, you have penile warts. You probably had sex with him and you gave him HPV. Your problem is HPV.'”

Jensen and Morin said they were offended by the comments, and argue that there is no evidence for the doctor’s claim.

“To be met with this type of prejudice is mentally disturbing,” Jensen said. “I feel emotionally violated.”

Jensen stopped the appointment immediately, and the pair left the office. 

“My viewpoint on what he wanted to come out of this? He didn’t want us as patients,” Jensen added. “That’s how we both feel. He was trying to get rid of us.”

Jensen and Morin have both filed official complaints against the doctor with the Maniwaki CLSC and the Quebec College of Physicians.

Patricia Rhéaume, a media relations officer with the CISSS de l’Outaouais, which oversees various clinics, confirmed that two complaints relating to the incident were filed.

When questioned about the incident, the Quebec College of Physicians stressed that physicians “must practice their profession with respect for the life, dignity and freedom of the individual.”

A spokeswoman for the college declined to confirm whether the doctor in question has already been investigated, noting that investigations are confidential.

“An investigation becomes public when the syndic’s office files a complaint with the disciplinary board,” the spokeswoman said. “This doctor has not been the subject of a complaint before the disciplinary board.”

Jensen and Morin told CTV News that they want to see the doctor reprimanded for his actions.

“To be meeting it now in 2024 from a medical professional with a Hippocratic Oath is just mind-blowing. What happened that day in that office, we were both just so stunningly shocked,” Jensen said.

“I’ve met a lot of this [discrimination] in the music industry…but it’s really, really difficult when you’re sick and you need help, and you get met with this at your worst,” he added.

Olivia Baker, a program manager with Fondation Émergence, an LGBTQ advocacy organization, told CTV News that LGBTQ people may fear experiencing discrimination or not treated respectfully in health settings, which lead them to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity, withhold pertinent information that doctors may need to know, or delay care.

In extreme cases, delaying care or omitting pertinent information could lead them to develop more serious health problems or even put their lives at risk. 

“LGBTQ phobia is reducing the lives of LGBTQ+ people in a lot of different ways,” Baker said. “We think about aggression, murders and criminalization as very obvious causes, but also not getting the medical help you need…can also have a negative impact on LGBTQ+ people’s lives.”

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