June July 2016
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Boston Hospital Cuts Ties With Antigay Doctor

Paul Church
Paul Church with patients

A Boston-area urologist who sent antigay emails to colleagues has lost his final appeal to maintain his affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Paul Church last month lost his appeal to the Boston hospital’s board of directors to overturn a decision revoking his admitting privileges and other connections with the institution, Fox News reports on its website. He had been affiliated with the hospital for 28 years.

Over the past decade, Church had objected to LGBT Pride observances at Beth Israel. He had sent emails to hospital staff containing antigay statements and had posted similar comments on Beth Israel’s internal website. A sample from an email he sent to the hospital CEO, as shared by Mass Resistance, an antigay group based in Massachusetts that took up Church’s cause, read:

“The evidence is irrefutable that behaviors common within the homosexual community are unhealthy and high risk for a host of serious medical consequences, including STD's, HIV and AIDS, anal cancer, hepatitis, parasitic intestinal infections, and psychiatric disorders. Life expectancy is significantly decreased as a result of HIV/AIDS, complications from the other health problems, and suicide. This alone should make it reprehensible to the medical community, who has an obligation to promote and model healthy behaviors and lifestyles.

“It is all together inappropriate for BIDMC to endorse, affirm, or encourage the behaviors ‘celebrated’ by Gay Pride Week. Sexual orientation has absolutely no direct bearing on work qualifications, and therefore does not require endorsement in the workplace. This action again jeopardizes the credibility of BIDMC as a healthcare institution and dishonors a large proportion of its community who continue to hold to the conviction that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral. ... Instead, you have allowed the homosexual activists to expand their peculiar activities on campus and promoted these perversions in an institution-wide email message.”

In 2011 a Beth Israel peer review committee reprimanded Church, and told him to stop communicating with staff regarding his views on homosexuality. Last year hospital officials said he had violated that order on communications, citing website posts such as this one in 2013:

“Celebrating sexual perversions is highly inappropriate, especially in the context of a medical center that should be aware of the negative health consequences of high risk behaviors. It also ignores and dishonors the religious convictions and moral objections that many members of the hospital community share who are opposed to these behaviors.”

That resulted in Church’s appearance before Beth Israel’s medical executive committee, which voted to sever the hospital’s connections with him; he appealed the decision to the board of directors, which upheld it. The hospital issued a statement to Fox News saying his behavior was inconsistent with its “established standards of professional conduct” and declining further comment because of confidentiality surrounding personnel matters.

Church had retained a lawyer from Liberty Counsel, the far-right legal organization that represented antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, but because Church was not actually an employee of Beth Israel, he cannot sue for employment discrimination. In addition to receiving support from Liberty Counsel and Mass Resistance, Church has been the subject of sympathetic posts on several right-wing websites. He has defended himself by saying he had asked to stop receiving emails and website posts about Pride events, but the hospital did not honor his request, that he has treated all patients respectfully and without discrimination, and that his comments about the health risks of what he called “homosexual behaviors” simply reflected information put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a statement issued through Liberty Counsel, he said his comments were based on “medical facts and Biblical truths.”

His comments about high rates of sexually transmitted infections, mental health problems, and suicide among LGBT people, however, apparently ignored that safer-sex practices reduce STI risks and that discrimination and stigma, not LGBT identity itself, are at the root of suicidal feelings and other mental health concerns that are prevalent among LGBT people.

Although Church’s supporters paint him as a victim, even Fox News points out that he hasn’t lost his career, as he remains affiliated with two other hospitals and is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. He has a private practice with Urology Practice Associates in Needham, a Boston suburb.

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