Friday, 5 December 2014

In Loving Memory of GP Dr Nazim Mahmood, died 2014

Dr Nazim Mahmood, a London Deanery BME GP, ended his life this year by jumping from a high building. He could not come out as a homosexual for fear of retribution as a Muslim. I wish he had reached out to me for help. He was torn between love for his fiance he wished to marry and  love for his Muslim mother.

Matt's words:

He had experienced so much prejudice and would share of his humiliation when racially profiled at airports, 'travelling to the US is a trauma for me.. I am routinely ushered aside and questioned.. twice this happened as i was boarding the plane.. and was asked to empty my pockets in front of other passengers which was very humiliating.. also held for "questioning" for an hour at US immigration after landing..this has happened twice.'

Here is a letter he wrote to the RCGP Honorary Secretary Amanda Howe, when the Daily Mail, Independent freelance journalist, the RCGP and GLADD misunderstood when I was trying to teach GP trainees how to negate unconscious/subconscious bias against homosexuality and ethnicity to get through a subjective exam that in my opinion, did not have enough controls for bias. I hope this article raises awareness and acceptance of the many out there who feel they must hide in the closet as he did until he came out this year and was rejected by his Muslim family. According to Islamic law, homosexuality is a crime, punishable by 'jumping from a high building or stoning to death.' This should not be happening in 2014! Tolerance and acceptance should be the norm in 2014! Homosexuality should NOT be punishable by death!

'Dear Amanda Howe

I have been compelled to write to you regarding the unnecessary furore surrounding the independent article concerning Una Coales. As a practising GP who is gay and from an ethnic minority, I have not in any way been offended by the advice she has offered to trainees to help them get through the CSA exam.

Homophobia is widespread in our society and this negative conditioning starts at a very young age. Research from gay charity Stonewall has shown that “teachers say that homophobic bullying is the second most frequent form of bullying, three times more prevalent than bullying due to religion or ethnicity”.

“In addition three quarters of primary school teachers report hearing the phrases ‘you’re so gay’ or ‘that’s so gay’ in their schools. Eight in ten secondary school teachers and two in five primary school teachers report hearing other insulting homophobic remarks such as ‘poof’, ‘dyke’, ‘queer’ and ‘faggot’.”

Every gay person will tell you, you learn as a child that behaving camp is not a positive trait, you learn that being a feminine man is something wrong, embarrassing, and worthy of hatred and ridicule. This is compounded by anti gay views from people with strongly held religious views where many millions of young people are taught that being gay is unnatural and against God’s law, as someone from a religious family I have personal experience of this.

If you combine this with negative stereotypes of gay men in the media, where the only prominent gay men in the media whilst growing up are overtly camp gay men, who are to be laughed at or with.  The result of all of this is that young people, gay or straight learn that being camp is not something to be proud or worthy of, and is not something you associate with a positive trait or a professional image. These views are not correct, right or to be promoted, but they do exist. Thankfully many people unlearn this negative brainwashing, but it is a fact of life that many do not, that is why homophobia and racism exist.

I believe Una Coales is sincerely trying to help candidates pass their CSA exam by eliminating this subjective bias. It is common sense that when you are being judged by members of the public who have never met you, as in the CSA exam which I have sat myself, it is reasonable to assume that some of them will make short cut lazy assumptions, either consciously or subconsciously about what they think you are like and may be like, based on your appearance and mannerisms. If they have negative views of gay or camp people, either consciously or subconsciously, they may use this bias to taint their opinion when they are judging you.

This applies equally to race, and especially when there is a constant negative stream of news stories about foreign doctors in some parts of the media. Some patients, when encountered by a “foreign looking” doctor, make assumptions about you as a doctor that will be negative, and you will have to "prove" your worth to this patient more than a "non-foreign looking" doctor, this is bias and exists in all walks of life.

In an ideal world it would be great to say you should be who you are and look to challenge these negative views. And we are grateful for those brave people who are from minorities who sacrifice their lives and careers to challenge these negative views and make life better for the rest of us, but the reality is that most gay and ethnic minorities do not want to live their life as a crusade, and they should not have to. Most people just want to get on in life, and do their best for themselves and their families; they accept this bias and live with this in some way on a day to day basis.

I believe Una Coales’ advice is not homophobic but merely helping candidates to get through an exam where you are being judged by members of the public who may hold subjective views based on your appearance and mannerisms. Some of these views will be negative so if you can neutralise this bias and improve your chances of passing first time, why not?, especially if you are paying over £1600+for a single attempt at CSA.

The advice offered by Una Coales, may have been stated in a blunt and direct way, but that does not make it incorrect, it is certainly controversial, but not un true or in any way homophobic. Having read many of the negative comments about Una Coales on newspaper and comment sites, I find it strange that people who previously did not make any effort to combat or challenge homophobia in our society are now suddenly so concerned about it, rather than vilifying Una Coales a better way of highlighting and challenging homophobia would be to make a donation to Stonewall. – in other words, don’t shoot the messenger, but support the cause to challenge the bias that she is highlighting.

I am writing this letter.. to express my support for Una Coales... I am unfortunately not able to be fully “out” as a gay man due to the homophobia that exists in the life that I lead.

Dr Nazim Mahmood
28 September 2012'

After qualifying as a GP, Naz worked as a NHS GP partner and learned how to run a business. He saw how the state contract was getting worse for GP partners so left to locum and set up his own independent practice and from there opened a second one as a successful GP.

In 2013, Naz selflessly donated twice to BAPIO's fight against discrimination.

While I, on the RCGP Council, and the South London faculty of the RCGP, both raised objections to the acceptance of a £1.5 million donation from the Sultan of Brunei. His country practices Sharia law and incarcerates homosexuals. His donation was not returned and he was awarded Companion of the College and the auditorium where new members receive their diplomas was named in honour of the Sultan of Brunei.

In March of 2014, Naz resigned from membership of the Royal College of GPs in protest over the handling of the CSA exam. He set an example I admired and lived by. I, too, resigned membership of the RCGP in May 2014 and asked his permission to use his incredible and eloquent letter of resignation as a template for mine.

In 2014 he got engaged to his boyfriend of 13 years and was all smiles and joy.

In July of 2014 he came out of the closet but met resistance and intolerance from his Muslim family. He ended his life for the Islamic 'crime' of being gay.

R.I.P. dearest Naz. We will all remember you forever. You are a great doctor and the most honourable and caring human being I have ever met.