World Psychiatric Association: Homosexuality Should Be Accepted

The World Psychiatric Association announced this week that it would discourage the use of gay conversion therapy and recommended that homosexuality be accepted culturally. The association's stance could prove influential globally, as the group represents numerous countries where LGBT issues remain controversial.

With all of the progress the LGBT community has made in recent years, especially in the United States, it’s worth keeping in mind that challenges persist elsewhere.

In some parts of the world, homosexuality faces harsh criminal punishments or remains heavily stigmatized. That has created a lasting interest in the use of controversial practices such as gay conversion therapy, which many parts of the U.S. have banned.

It’s in this context that the World Psychiatric Association  (WPA) stepped into the fray. In an official statement released this week, the organization expressed its opposition to conversion therapy and similar practices, saying they reflect a “lack of scientific efficacy.” Going further, WPA emphasizes that homosexuality is normal behavior and that efforts to treat it are questionable at best.

“WPA believes strongly in evidence-based treatment. There is no sound scientific evidence that innate sexual orientation can be changed,” the association said in its statement. “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.”

WPA’s stance, first reported by BuzzFeed News, could prove hugely influential globally. The association represents 200,000-plus psychiatrists from more than 118 countries, and some of those countries have traditionally been supportive of treating homosexuality through therapy.

The BuzzFeed piece notes that WPA’s stance goes further in some ways than existing standards do, particularly on the issue of acceptance and equality.

“Psychiatrists have a social responsibility to advocate for a reduction in social inequalities for all individuals, including inequalities related to gender identity and sexual orientation,” the statement said.

WPA’s position represents an endpoint in a cultural shift in the psychiatry community. Up until 1973, the American Psychiatric Association had classified homosexuality as a mental disorder, though it has moved away from that stance entirely and now actively encourages acceptance.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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