February 2021 Pulse

One of the most controversial issue surrounding people struggling with same-sex attraction arguably is whether their sexual ‘orientation’ can or should be ‘corrected’ through therapy. For many, the very idea of treating people who are same-sex attracted with the view of helping them to become heterosexuals must be roundly rejected because the current orthodoxy states that homosexuality is not a disorder.

Objectors of sexual reorientation therapies often point to the landmark decision in 1974 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to remove homosexuality from the list of pathological psychiatric conditions. The APA states categorically that ‘homosexuality per se is one form of sexual behaviour and like other forms of sexual behaviour which are not themselves psychiatric disorders, is not listed in the nomenclature of mental disorders.’

It is important to underscore the fact that the APA decision was not made because of some scientific breakthrough which showed conclusively that homosexuality is innate. The inconvenient truth is that APA removed homosexuality from the list because it succumbed to the pressure exerted by gay activists.

Recounting this saga in his book Homosexuality and American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis, Ronald Bayer – himself a gay man – writes:

The result was not a conclusion based upon an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.

Once removed from the venerable list, homosexuality should no longer be seen as a psychological disorder that requires treatment. Therapy given to people who are same-sex attracted should now be directed at an altogether different goal – that of helping them to cope with and / or overcome their ‘internalised homophobia’.

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Dr Roland Chia is Chew Hock Hin Professor at Trinity Theological College (Singapore) and Theological and Research Advisor of the Ethos Institute for Public Christianity.