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Pentagon reverses
position on homosexuality as "mental disorder"

Pentagon reverses
position on homosexuality as "mental disorder"

Pentagon

Under pressure from the American Psychiatric Association and a handful of lawmakers, the Defense Department has agreed to remove homosexuality from a list of "certain mental disorders."

The Pentagon no longer deems homosexuality a mental disorder, officials said on Wednesday, although the reversal has no impact on U.S. policy prohibiting openly gay people from serving in the military. After a 1996 Pentagon document placing homosexuality among a list of "certain mental disorders" came to light this month, the American Psychiatric Association and a handful of lawmakers asked the Defense Department to change its view.

The Pentagon said in a statement, "Homosexuality should not have been characterized as a mental disorder in an appendix of a procedural instruction. A clarification will be issued over the next few days.

"Notwithstanding its inclusion, we find no practical impact, since that appendix simply listed factors that do not constitute a physical disability, and homosexuality of course does not," the Pentagon added.

The 1996 Pentagon document, which had been recertified as "current" three years ago, had listed homosexuality as a mental disorder alongside mental retardation, impulse control disorders, and personality disorders. The American Psychiatric Association, responsible for a definitive listing of mental health classifications, declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973.

Changing the classification "will be consistent with the scientific consensus on homosexuality and mental health," said Nathaniel Frank, a researcher at the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The center recently found and released the 1996 document. "I'm glad the language has been changed," said Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group that opposes limits on gays in the military. (Reuters)

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