Persuading the American Psychiatric Association that homosexuality was not an illness

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Uncredited and Undated Photo: A demo near the Hadson Hotel, West 31st Street, New York, probably in the 1970s | Business Insider | 14082

The American Psychiatric Association regarded homosexuality as a mental illness until 1974. The illness of homosexuality was “treated” on a wide basis. There was little or no suggestion within the psychiatric community that homosexuality might be conceptualized as anything other than a mental illness that needed to be treated.

Then in 1970 gay activists protested against the APA convention in San Francisco. These scenes were repeated in 1971, and as people came out of the “closet” and felt empowered politically and socially, the APA directorate became increasingly uncomfortable with their stance that homosexuality was an illness at all.

In 1973 the APA’s nomenclature task force recommended that homosexuality be declared normal. The trustees were not prepared to go that far, but they did vote to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions. This decision was confirmed by a vote of the APA membership, and homosexuality was no longer listed as an illness requiring treatment in 1974.

SP

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