BI Deaconess plans review of doctor’s dismissal over ‘gay lifestyle’ warnings

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BOSTON – A doctor fired for repeatedly speaking out about medical risks tied to sex between men will be given a last chance to appeal his dismissal from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at a hearing Wednesday before hospital directors.

Dr. Paul Church, a Needham urologist, had his medical privileges revoked in March after a decade of conflict with hospital administrators over the issue. In September, a Beth Israel disciplinary board rejected Church’s appeal of his dismissal.

Since 2004, Church has challenged hospital administrators to address health risks associated with promiscuity among gay men. Church, 65, says homosexual and bisexual men face a significantly elevated risk of becoming infected by sexually transmitted disease, including human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, a precursor to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS.

Church also opposed the hospital’s support for the annual Boston Pride Parade, which celebrates diversity and inclusion. Beth Israel is currently listed as a participant by the organizer’s website. According to his supporters, Church offered to provide an “opposing viewpoint” for a 2011 hospital video promoting gay pride. In response, administrators suggested that Church resign or face disciplinary sanctions. The hospital then formed a peer review panel to determine whether his conduct violated internal policies.

The committee subsequently charged Church with violating the hospital’s harassment policies and told him to cease communication with staff members regarding his views related to sexual orientation.

During 2013 and 2014, Church posted three comments about the hospital’s involvement in the annual parade on an internal hospital online site. The last two statements included quotes from parts of the Bible, Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-29, both of which condemn same-sex relations. Hospital officials said that violated their order to stop commenting on sexual orientation and terminated his privileges, effectively dismissing him from the staff.

Church’s lawyer, Richard Mast of Liberty Counsel, told the Boston Business Journal in July that the doctor’s statements were based on both his medical and religious views. After his appeal was rejected last month, Church asked to be heard by the directors.

A major teaching hospital affiliated with Harvard University’s medical school, Beth Israel has 1,250 staff physicians and 672 licensed beds. The institution, which employs more than 6,000 people, is located on Brookline Avenue in Boston’s Longwood medical area.