The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) has this week released its strongest position statement on LGBTI rights to date, calling for the universal decriminalization of sex between people of the same gender.
The WPA represents more than 200,000 psychiatrists from 118 countries and its membership includes 138 national psychiatric societies around the world.
The WPA says it was prompted to issue a statement on the issue due to recent controversies around homosexuality in many countries around the world.
‘WPA considers sexual orientation to be innate and determined by biological, psychological, developmental, and social factors,’ the group said in a statement.
The WPA statement says that diversity in sexual orientation had now been studied extensively for over 50 years and it was now known that around 4 percent of the people in any society experience meaningful same-sex attraction, while around one-in-two-hundred identify with a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth.
The WPA also says that LGBTI people are known to experience higher rates of psychiatric disorders the wider community but that their mental health improves in environments where they have equal rights.
However while the WPA recognizes that LGBTI people may need psychiatric help to help them cope with the effects of discrimination it also says it is wrong to view their sexual orientation as a psychiatric problem.
‘WPA believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,’ the position statement states.
‘Furthermore, so-called treatments of homosexuality can create a setting in which prejudice and discrimination flourish, and they can be potentially harmful … The provision of any intervention purporting to “treat” something that is not a disorder is wholly unethical.’
The WPA then states a number of actions that it would like to see taken around the world-
The first is that ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals are and should be regarded as valued members of society, who have exactly the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens.’
‘This includes equal access to healthcare and the rights and responsibilities that go along with living in a civilized society.’
The second concerns the ‘universality of same-sex expression, across cultures.’
‘A same-sex sexual orientation per se does not imply objective psychological dysfunction or impairment in judgement, stability, or vocational capabilities,’ the WPA states.
The third concerns attempts to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientations.
‘WPA considers same-sex attraction, orientation, and behavior as normal variants of human sexuality,’ the group’s statement reads.
‘[WPA] recognizes the multi-factorial causation of human sexuality, orientation, behavior, and lifestyle. It acknowledges the lack of scientific efficacy of treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation and highlights the harm and adverse effects of such “therapies”.’
The fourth concerns the ‘social stigma and consequent discrimination of people with same-sex sexual orientation and transgender gender identity.’
‘[WPA] recognises that the difficulties they face are a significant cause of their distress and calls for the provision of adequate mental health support,’ the group says.
The fifth action calls for the decriminalization of homosexuality all over the world and the granting of equal rights to LGBTI people.
‘WPA supports the need to de-criminalize same–sex sexual orientation and behavior and transgender gender identity, and to recognize LGBT rights to include human, civil, and political rights,’ the group says.
‘[WPA] also supports anti-bullying legislation; anti-discrimination student, employment, and housing laws; immigration equality; equal age of consent laws; and hate crime laws providing enhanced criminal penalties for prejudice-motivated violence against LGBT people.’
The sixth action recognizes the need for further research into the development of ‘evidence-based medical and social interventions that support the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.’
You can read the group’s full position statement here