At its meeting on 15 December 1973, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees made the landmark decision to remove homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A referendum of members the next year voted 58 per cent in favour of the change.
The decision came about after a campaign by gay activists, including disruptions at APA conferences, at which a gay psychiatrist speaking on the subject in 1972 had felt obliged to do so from behind a mask for fear that identifying himself would have serious professional repercussions. The board’s vote followed a review of the scientific literature and consultation with experts.
Since then the APA has outraged the religious right in the US by backing gay marriage and affirming its opposition to ‘any psychiatric treatment, such as “reparative” or “conversion” therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation’.
‘What about our mental health? Do the majority of Americans who think homosexuality is abnormal have to bow to the wishes of a small fraction of the population who engage in sodomy?’ – Rev Louis P Sheldon, chairman, Traditional Values Coalition
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