HOMOSEXUALITY AS AN ILLNESS
Historically, homosexuality has often been treated as a mental illness in need of a cure. Treatments include(d):
- "re-education" through psychology
- aversion therapy
- hormonal treatment
- locating the "gay gene"
- "de-gaying" through prayer
Professional literature lagged behind the decision that homosexuality per se was not a mental illness e.g.
- The British Medical Journal was still discussing the potential of different treatments for homosexuality in 1975
- The World Health Organisation only declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 1992
- (In 1992 the Vatican put out a statement describing homosexuality as an "objective disorder")
These views still exist today in some quarters. Homosexuality continues to be referred to as a mental disorder in some still-used psychiatric texts and anecdotal evidence shows that this view is common in society in general and is still held by some mental health professionals. It must be remembered that many people working in this field had their views formed by opinions and attitudes that were prevalent 30 or 40 years ago.
The fact that a person is gay, lesbian or bisexual does not mean that they are suffering from a mental disorder. Evidence suggests that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals may suffer more mental distress than the general population, but that mental distress may develop for many different reasons. Lesbians, gay men and bisexuals do face additional and particular pressures from living in a heterosexist society. These pressures can be highly detrimental to mental health.