Is Homosexuality Really A Mental Health Disorder?

The success of ‘The Imitation Game’ at the box office in India was not surprising, considering our large population of tech geeks and IT enthusiasts. But, while the movie explored the genius of Allan Turing (mathematician, codebreaker, and pioneer of computer science), it also shed light on the victimization of homosexuals across the world.

Homosexuality is still a controversial subject in many parts, giving rise to questions such as, is homosexuality a mental health disorder, and if so why does it occur and how can we treat it?

Image by Danny Fowler / CC BY SA 2.0
Image by Danny Fowler / CC BY SA 2.0

Traditional Attitudes Towards Homosexuality

“In the ‘so called’ civilized world too, homosexuals and lesbians have been discriminated against and victimized, until very recently”

Most cultures have a history of being conservative and intolerant to non-conformists, especially in the context of sexuality. In the twentieth century, homosexuality was frowned upon because of laws and social norms that were guided by religious beliefs and interpretations of scripture that fueled bigotry and discrimination. This was also true of the ‘so called’ civilized world, with homosexuals and lesbians being discriminated against and victimized, until very recently.

The Scientific Consensus On Homosexuality As A Mental Health Disorder

“Towards the end of the 80s and in the early 90s, homosexuality was finally declassified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO)”

While science has typically been a source of light in a world of darkness, medical experts and health care providers are not immune to cultural prejudices. Right up to the early 70s, some therapists still used aversion therapy that is now regarded as cruel, barbaric, and ineffective.

Towards the end of the 80s and in the early 90s, homosexuality was finally declassified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Homosexuality is no less caused by a mental disorder than superstition is caused by mental illness.

Most experts and politicians who insinuate that homosexuality needs to be cured have simply found a socially acceptable way to discriminate, allowing them to preach their gospel of bigotry, whilst retaining the garb of civility and tolerance.

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Why Is Alternate Sexuality So Controversial?

“Conservatives and religious groups regard homosexuality as an aberration, justifying conversion therapies, as they insist that such sexual behavior is unnatural and threatens the survival of our species”

The subject of homosexuality still evokes heated debate, as many conservatives and religious groups regard it as an aberration. They justify conversion therapies, as they insist that such sexual behavior is unnatural and threatens the survival of our species. Both arguments are specious and based on misinformation or denial of facts.

Here Are The Scientific Facts

“Homosexual behavior has been observed in sheep, with around 8% of rams exhibiting a sexual preference for other rams; similar behavior was also seen in orangutans, dwarf chimpanzees, bottlenose dolphins, & guppies, among other species”

Several studies conducted by scientists have observed same-sex relationships in the wild, shattering the myth of homosexuality being unnatural. This behavior was seen in sheep, with around 8% of rams in populations exhibiting a sexual preference for other rams. While sheep are domesticated animals, these relationships were also observed in wild male Sumatran orangutans.

In fact, the variety of same-sex sexual behavior in animals is astounding, with many recorded cases of same-sex courtship, pair bonding and copulation across a wide range of species, including the dwarf chimpanzee (our closest relative), bonobos, bottlenose dolphins, fruit flies, guppies, penguins, and many more.

In the context of a threat to survival of the species, no species threatens the survival of the planet as greatly as humanity. Our exploding population is exhausting the planet’s natural resources and human activity has actually contributed to climate change, resulting in an existential threat. If anything, as standup comedian Russell Peters would say, we could do with a bit more of homosexuality here!

If you really care about the mental health and wellbeing of someone you believe to be gay, the best thing that you can do would be to accept them as they are. Encourage them to seek help from counselors, psychologists, or psychotherapists to overcome their feelings of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, rather than for a cure for homosexuality.

 

References:

Meyer, Ilan H. “Prejudice, Social Stress, and Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Populations: Conceptual Issues and Research Evidence.” Psychological bulletin 129.5 (2003): 674–697. PMC. Web. 7 June 2016.

Almeida, Joanna et al. “Emotional Distress Among LGBT Youth: The Influence of Perceived Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation.” Journal of youth and adolescence 38.7 (2009): 1001–1014. PMC. Web. 7 June 2016.

Roselli, Charles E., Radhika Reddy, and Katherine Kaufman. “The Development of Male-Oriented Behavior in Rams.” Frontiers in neuroendocrinology 32.2 (2011): 164–169. PMC. Web. 7 June 2016.

Fox EA. Homosexual behavior in wild Sumatran orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus abelii). Am J Primatol. 2001 Nov;55(3):177-81. PubMed PMID: 11746281.

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