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World Health Organization urged to remove sexual orientation ‘disorders’ from disease classifications

A working group of experts reviewing the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases guidelines has recommended the removal of several ‘disorders’ that continue to stigmatize LGBTIs as sick despite the removal of homosexuality as a disorder in 1990
The World Health Organization's headquarters in Geneva
Photo by Thorkild Tylleskar

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been urged to remove several classifications in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) guidelines as the United Nations body prepares to release a new edition of the guidelines in 2017.

The recommendation was made by a working group of health experts from around the world who have been tasked by the WHO to review the F66 section of the guidelines.

The ICD has not listed homosexuality as a disorder in-and-of-itself since 1990.

However under the current guidelines if a man marries a woman but then decides he is gay and wants to get a divorce to pursue relationships with other men, that is still considered a disorder.

People who are same-sex attracted but wish they were opposite-sex attracted are also considered to have a disorder as are people who are unsure of their sexuality and experiencing distress because of that.

The 10th edition of the ICD guidelines list these as, ‘Psychological and behavioral disorders associated with sexual development and orientation,’ while also stating, ‘sexual orientation by itself is not to be considered a disorder.’

The listings which the working group take issue with are ‘Sexual maturation disorder,’ which is defined as, ‘uncertainty about one’s gender identity or sexual orientation and distress about the uncertainty,’ ‘Ego-dystonic sexual orientation,’ in which a person is distressed by unwanted same-sex attractions, ‘Sexual relationship disorder,’ in which a person’s abnormal sexual preferences make it difficult to have relationships with other people, and ‘Other psychosexual development disorders’ which is an undefined catch-all diagnosis for sexual disorders that fall outside the previously listed categories.

‘The Working Group recommends that these categories be deleted entirely from ICD-11,’ the global group of medical experts recommends.

‘Health concerns related to sexual orientation can be better addressed using other ICD categories.’

‘A review of the evidence published since 1990 found little scientific interest in these categories. In addition, the Working Group found no evidence that they are clinically useful: they neither contribute to health service delivery or treatment selection nor provide essential information for public health surveillance. Moreover, use of these categories may create unnecessary harm by delaying accurate diagnosis and treatment.’

However any changes to the guidelines will have to be voted on by the ministers of health of all World Health Organization countries of which around 80 still criminalize homosexuality.

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Hard to believe that is still there, considering the UN advocacy.
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