Homosexuality removed from official list of mental illnesses
By David Rennie
12:00AM BST 21 Apr 2001
CHINA removed homosexuality from its official register of psychiatric disorders yesterday in what the media hailed as a move towards tolerance and rationality.
But leading psychiatrists continued to describe homosexual acts as “abnormal”, a view that if anything understates the Chinese public’s near-universal hostility towards homosexuals.
The third edition of the Chinese Standards for Classification and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, published yesterday, formally struck homosexuality from its list of diseases, although same-sex desires remained listed as a source of mental distress for those unhappy with their orientation.
The Chinese Psychiatric Association – which is under close international scrutiny because of the growing use of mental hospitals to detain dissidents and members of the Falun Gong sect – voted the change through earlier this year.
The decision followed consultations with the American Psychiatric Association, which struck homosexuality from its own register of diseases in 1973. However, the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper gave considerable space to the views of a senior psychiatrist who called homosexuals “abnormal” and liable to spread disease through incessant promiscuity.
Prejudice against homosexuals is very strong in China and the number of open homosexuals is tiny. Communist puritanism means that almost all young couples marry before living together, and powerful Confucian traditions state that the worst “unfilial act” is failing to have a son to carry on the family line.