Dean of Turkish medical school removes ‘sexual orientation’ from Hippocratic Oath

The medical school dean of a state university in northern Turkey has removed the phrase “sexual orientation” from the Hippocratic Oath graduating students are supposed to recite, saying he would not allow “LGBT propaganda” in universities.

Duvar English

The Dean of the Bolu Abant İzzet Baysal University Medical School banned the phrase “sexual orientation” from the Physician’s Oath to be read at the ceremony ahead of the June 24 graduation ceremony. 

The dean’s office found the phrase, which is part of the World Medical Association's Geneva Declaration, “immoral,” according to reporting by the daily BirGün

The graduation committee, consisting of students and teachers who had been preparing for the ceremony for nearly three months, faced interference from Vice Dean Mervan Bektaş. 

Bektaş reportedly asked students if they would “defend pedophilia as well,” when approached by a representative group regarding the decision.

He said, "If pedophilia is legitimized in the declaration in the future, will you defend that too? There is no such thing as sexual orientation. There are only two genders."

In a meeting with students in his office, Dean Gürkan Öztürk stated, "As long as I sit in this chair, I will not allow LGBT propaganda. You, as physicians, are becoming tools for propaganda."

It was reported that Dean Öztürk and former Provincial Health Director and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s Bolu mayoral candidate Muhammed Emin Demirkol held religious discussions with a group of students and collaborated in the school.

Despite the ban, students announced that they would read the phrase “sexual orientation” during the graduation ceremony and issued a public statement.

The students stated, "The decision to remove the phrase 'sexual orientation' from the Physician’s Oath, which states, 'I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient,' is a clear violation of the universal ethical values of the medical profession and human rights.”

Removing this phrase from the text would constitute a severe violation of the core values of the profession and the dignity of medicine, which was absolutely unacceptable for the students. 

“The Physician’s Oath is a sacred text that reminds us of our ethical values and professional responsibilities as we begin our careers. We demand that the Physician’s Oath be read in its original form at our graduation ceremony. We strongly emphasize the necessity of practicing the medical profession under universal ethical principles and deontology," the graduating class concluded. 

The public Yıldırım Beyazıt University of the capital province Ankara administration similarly changed the text of the Hippocratic Oath ahead of the graduation ceremony.

The school omitted “gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity,” from the text, and changed the word “pride” (“onur” in Turkish) with “honor,” in an effort to remove any association with Pride Month.