Sick No More
December 16, 1999
After the American Psychiatric Associations decision to remove homosexuality from
its list of mental disorders in 1973, only "ego-dystonic homosexuality"
meaning a condition of emotional distress about ones sexual orientation
remained on the list. That was removed in 1987. Earlier this year, the APA spoke out
strongly against the practice of "conversion" therapy, which seeks to make gay
An excerpt from The Washington Post of December 16, 1973:
By Victor Cohn, Washington Post Staff Writer
In what both psychiatrists and homosexual leaders called a historic act, the American
Psychiatric Association yesterday struck homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.
Spokesmen for the nations main psychiatric group said new knowledge and changing
attitudes dictated the move, which reverses a medical definition going back nearly 100
The psychiatrists predicted a still more rapid liberalization of views about
homosexuality throughout society.
The associations trustees urged an end to
"cruel" private and public discrimination in jobs, housing, and other areas.
They asked 42 states and the District of Columbia to repeal "irrational" laws
against sodomy or "unnatural" sex acts (as Illinois, Connecticut, Colorado,
Oregon, Hawaii, Delaware, Ohio and North Dakota have done since 1961).
The trustees refused, however, to declare homosexuality normal the
recommendation of its Task Force on Nomenclature. And they inserted a new psychiatric
disorder called "sexual orientation disturbance" for the many homosexuals who
either want to change their orientation, or need to adjust to the one they have.
Leaders of self-styled "gay" groups, invited to a news conference at
association headquarters here, nonetheless hailed the actions as a "psychiatric
turnaround" and "the greatest gay victory."
"This represents the culmination of a decade-long battle," said Dr. Franklin
Kameny, former Army astronomer and head of the Mattachine Society of Washington.
"Weve won," said Ronald Gold of New York, communications head of the
National Gay Task Force.
The psychiatrists conceded their claims. "We were prompted by the
homosexuals pressure, but what were doing is psychiatrically sound," said
Dr. Robert L. Spitzer of Columbia University, who led the group that rewrote the
"We decided a medical disorder either has to be associated with subjective
distress pain or general impairment of social functioning. Homosexuality is
not regularly associated with either."
By a 15-to-0 vote with two abstentions, the trustees agreed. Both Spitzer and the gay
leaders voiced disappointment that they struck the word "normal" from the task
force recommendation calling homosexuality "a normal variant of human
sexuality." The trustees also made the task force finding that homosexuality "by
itself does not constitute a psychiatric disorder" read, "does not necessarily
constitute a disorder."
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