A Spanish hospital diagnosed a woman with homosexuality. It was all a mistake, they say.

·4 min read
Alba Aragón, 19, has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing “LGBTBIfobia,” or “considering her sexual orientation an illness.” (Alba Aragón) (The Washington Post)

Alba Aragón did not shy away from sharing her sexual orientation during her first appointment with a gynecologist last week.

After all, Aragón is comfortable with her sexuality: She has been attracted to women since she was 15.

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"I told him that I was gay because I thought it would be an important fact at the time of prescribing any treatment or determining the diagnosis," said Aragón, who lives in Murcia, a city in southeast Spain.

But before the consult ended at the Hospital General Universitario Reina Sofía, doctor Eugenio López handed her a document diagnosing her with an illness that had nothing to do with the irregular and painful periods for which Aragón had sought treatment.

Instead, it read in Spanish, "Current illness: Homosexual."

Aragón, 19, was taken aback when she reviewed the report.

"I thought it was incredible that up until this day, in the 21st century, these types of beliefs continue to exist," she told The Washington Post.

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Aragón has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing "LGTBIfobia," or "considering her sexual orientation an illness." The complaint - submitted by GALACTYCO, a Spain-based activist group that defends LGBTQ rights - demands a new diagnosis so that no mention of homosexuality as an illness will be found in Aragón's medical records. It also urged the hospital to admonish López and calls for an apology to be sent to Aragón.

The doctor has told local media that the incident was a "mistake" that happened when transcribing the patient's record.

"What can I do?" López told El Español. "It was a huge slip-up. I'm a human being. I clicked the wrong button."

The hospital is defending that explanation.

"The computer system offers a series of fields to fill out the report and, as the own specialist has said, he made a mistake when selecting the field where he put the word 'Homosexuality,'" spokeswoman Mar Sánchez told The Post.

A man who answered the phone at the doctor's office on Friday said López was not at his clinic. He declined to answer questions about the case, instead referring to interviews with local media.

The case - widely reported by Spanish news outlets - sparked national outrage, drawing the attention of local LGBTQ organizations and political leaders who denounced the incident.

On the morning of Oct. 4, a nervous Aragón walked into the public hospital for her first-ever gynecology appointment. Her mother and sister could not accompany her because of work obligations, Aragón's mother, Santi Conesa, told The Post. But Aragón, who had already waited months to secure the appointment because of the pandemic, chose to go on her own.

By the time she got to the doctor's office, Aragón answered a series of routine questions before voluntarily disclosing her sexual orientation, she said. Following the doctor's examination, Aragón said she was asked whether her sexual orientation could be noted in her clinical file - a piece of information only the physician would be able to see.

"The surprise happened when I got home and I read the report," Aragón said.

The doctor's diagnosis didn't upset her, Aragón said, but it certainly would have five years ago when she was still grappling with accepting her sexual orientation. Aragón and her family reached out to GALACTYCO, the LGBTQ collective, to submit a complaint on behalf of people struggling with coming out. She doesn't want anyone to feel that homosexuality is an illness, Aragón told The Post.

She added: "In the end, we wanted to tell this experience and publicize it so it doesn't happen to other people."

The complaint was presented to Murcia's Consejería de Salud, the local health department, on Wednesday. A spokeswoman with the department confirmed the hospital has opened an investigation.

That same day, leaders there called Aragón to apologize, the hospital spokeswoman told The Post. The doctor also fixed the report the next day, the spokeswoman added.

Aragón and her mother have accepted the hospital's apologies.

"My intention is that it does not happen again with me nor with anyone else," Aragón told The Post.

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