Another HRC Complaint



January 29, 2009

Lesbians File Human Rights Complaint against Canadian Physician

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, January 29, 2009 ( – Two lesbians, who are legally “married” in Canada, have filed a complaint against Dr. Kamelia Elias with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, alleging she discriminated against them for suggesting they find a physician who has experience with homosexuals.

Dr. Elias, who practiced medicine in Egypt before coming to Canada, was approached last week by the two women who were looking for a doctor after having moved to Winnipeg from Yellowknife.

After discovering that the two were homosexuals, Dr. Elias told them that though homosexuality was incompatible with her religious beliefs, she had never had occasion to treat lesbians during her twenty years as a physician, and suggested they seek someone with more experience.

“They get a lot of diseases and infections,” Dr. Elias told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I didn’t refuse to treat them, I said it’s better to find someone who has experience and will take this type of patient. There (are) some doctors who can treat them.”

College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba registrar Bill Pope said many physicians who come to Canada from diverse cultural backgrounds may not understand “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 in the WFP report.

Dr. Terry Gwozdecki, medical director of Lakewood Medical Center where Dr. Elias works, released a statement to the WFP which said, “Dr. Elias at no time refused to accept these women into her practice. It was only when one of the two women became defensive when asked about their relationship, and Dr. Elias was pointedly asked if she had a problem with their relationship, that Dr. Elias felt it necessary to be up-front with regards to her own religious beliefs and inexperience in treating homosexual patients.

“Please understand that her inexperience stems not from unwillingness to treat these patients, but solely due to lack of exposure to them in her practices in Cairo, Egypt and Steinbach, Manitoba,” Gwozdecki wrote. “Her disclosure of her religious background was in the interest of being as honest and transparent as possible so that the patients themselves could decide if they wanted her as their physician.”

Andrea Markowski, one of the two lesbian women, however, said that they interpreted Dr. Elias’ statement of her religious beliefs as meaning that she would not treat them. “We took that to mean that she wouldn’t care for us because it conflicted with her religion,” she said. “She clearly was shocked by our relationship, unable to recover.”

Contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba with your concern:

1000 – 1661 Portage Ave
Winnipeg MB  R3J 3T7
Phone: (204) 774-4344
Fax: (204) 774-0750
Toll Free (In Manitoba): (877) 774-4344
Email: [email protected]

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