Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Chinese Psychiatric Association removed “homosexuality” from the third revision of the Chinese Classification and Diagnostic Criteria of Mental Disorders. Critics, however, called for the association to remove “ego-dystonic homosexuality” as a diagnostic category for individuals who remain dissatisfied with their same-gender sexual orientation.

Summary of Event

On April 20, 2001, the Chinese Psychiatric Association (CPA) published the third revision of its Chinese Classification and Diagnostic Criteria of Mental Disorders (commonly known as the “Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders,” or CCMD), its official list. In this revision, “homosexuality” was removed from the list. [kw]Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders (Apr. 20, 2001) [kw]Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders, Chinese (Apr. 20, 2001) [kw]Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders, Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes (Apr. 20, 2001) [kw]Mental Disorders, Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of (Apr. 20, 2001) Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (Chinese Psychiatric Association) Chinese Psychiatric Association Homosexuality;as a mental disorder[mental disorder] Psychiatry;and homosexuality[homosexuality] [c]Health and medicine;Apr. 20, 2001: Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders[2580] [c]Science;Apr. 20, 2001: Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders[2580] [c]Organizations and institutions;Apr. 20, 2001: Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders[2580] [c]Publications;Apr. 20, 2001: Chinese Psychiatric Association Removes Homosexuality from List of Mental Disorders[2580] Kimmel, Douglas Yicheng, Jia

This change came as the culmination of both internal and international pressure to bring this Chinese classification schema into line with the World Health Organization’s guidelines and with other mental health organizations around the world. Like the 1973 revision of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), this revision, however, retained the diagnostic category “ego-dystonic homosexuality” for individuals who remain dissatisfied with their same-gender sexual orientation. This particular diagnosis was later removed from the APA’s DSM.

Even with the 1994 revision of the CCMD (CCMD-2R), the CPA’s manual contained statements regarding its opposition to the World Health Organization’s World Health Organization;and homosexuality[homosexuality] guidelines that depathologize homosexuality. Since that time, however, social pressure had been building both within and outside China. In 1997 a new penal code was implemented that included the removal of criminal penalties for sodomy (termed “hooliganism”). Also, Chinese nationals in other countries began to marshal their resources and organize for the 2001 revision process.

The debate on such a revision was triggered when the Chinese translation of a paper by noted American psychologist Douglas Kimmel was distributed at a medical conference in China in the spring of 1997. The paper presents a historical perspective on homosexuality as a diagnostic entity. Jia Yicheng, a well-respected Chinese psychiatrist and professor, denounced Kimmel’s assertion in the paper that homosexuality is normal and requested that the Zhejiang Province Mental Health Institute launch an open debate on the matter.

Twelve articles were published in Mental Health Information, the official publication of Zhejiang Province Mental Health Institute which had been made available to the Chinese public from August through December, 1997. Although more articles were included that opposed depathologizing homosexuality, Chinese mental health professionals for the first time voiced arguments in favor of depathologizing homosexuality; more significantly, their opinions were heard and read by the general public directly. Some professionals had been speaking and writing on the topic for several years, but their voices were heard only at professional conferences and their opinions were seldom reported by the media.

On September 1, 1997, the Chinese Society for the Study of Sexual Minorities Chinese Society for the Study of Sexual Minorities Sexual Minorities, Chinese Society for the Study of (CSSSM) was established in Los Angeles, California. The group was to coordinate the efforts of Chinese living outside China who wished to see the CCMD changed. Because information regarding lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues was quite limited in China and its dissemination still largely restricted by government policy, CSSSM developed a biweekly Web journal, Tao Hong Man Tian Xia (www.csssm.org), which is published in both Chinese and English. The first issue appeared on September 5, 1997, and it has been published continuously since. Featured in the journal are articles written by CSSSM members or free-lance articles commissioned by CSSSM.

Significance

The Chinese Psychiatric Association had stressed that its decision to take “homosexuality” off its list of mental disorders was based on its own empirical findings as well as those from their counterparts in other countries. In 1996, the CPA had established a special task force to assess the mental status of lesbians and gays in China. That task force developed a sample of fifty-four homosexually oriented persons, six of whom had approached psychiatrists to change their sexual orientation, and found that some of the subjects in this sample showed signs of psychological problems. The researchers did not address whether those problems were caused by the individuals’ sexual orientations or resulted from living in a negative and oppressive environment.

Statements of support for the revision of the CCMD came also from psychiatric, psychological, counseling, and other professional mental health associations around the world. The governing bodies of such organizations as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and others passed strongly worded resolutions urging the removal of “homosexuality” as a mental disorder. Presidents of these associations wrote strongly worded letters to the CPA.

The CPA then sent members to the annual conference of the APA in 2000, soliciting both pro and con suggestions from attendees. The tenth revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (World Health Organization) issued by the World Health Organization, also had an influence on CPA’s decision. The standing committee of the CPA elected to pass the resolution, thus depathologizing homosexuality for CCMD-3 at the end of 2000. The decision has been warmly welcomed by the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community in China. Some, however, believe the delisting did not go far enough and are urging the removal of “ego-dystonic homosexuality” from the CCMD. Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (Chinese Psychiatric Association) Chinese Psychiatric Association Homosexuality;as a mental disorder[mental disorder] Psychiatry;and homosexuality[homosexuality]

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Choong, Tet Sieu. “Revolution by Stages: Things Are Gradually Getting Better for Asia’s Homosexuals, but Acceptance Is Still a Long Way Off.” Asiaweek.com. August 7, 1998. http://www .asiaweek.com/asiaweek/98/0807.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">

    CSSSM News Digest, October 26, 2000. Special issue, “Update of CSSSM Work, 1997-2000.” http://www.csssm.org/English/e6.htm.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Fann, Rodge Q. “Growing Up Gay in China.” In Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Issues in Education: Programs, Policies, and Practices, edited by James T. Sears. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2005.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Immigration and Naturalization Service. China: Information on Treatment of Homosexuals. Washington, D.C.: United States INS Resource Information Center, March 1, 2001. http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/asylum/ric/documentation/CHN01001.htm.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wu, Jin. “Open Debate on Homosexuality in China and CSSSM in 1997.” Chinese Society for the Study of Sexual Minorities, 1998. http://www .csssm.org/English/e3.htm.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Zhou, Huashan. “Individual Strategies of Tongshi Empowerment.” In Different Rainbows, edited by Peter Drucker. Chicago: InBook/LPC Group, 2000.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Tongzhi: Politics of Same-sex Eroticism in Chinese Societies. New York: Haworth Press, 2000.

May 6, 1868: Kertbeny Coins the Terms “Homosexual” and “Heterosexual”

1869: Westphal Advocates Medical Treatment for Sexual Inversion

1897: Ellis Publishes Sexual Inversion

May 14, 1897: Hirschfeld Founds the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee

1905: Freud Rejects Third-Sex Theory

1929: Davis’s Research Identifies Lesbian Sexuality as Common and Normal

1948: Kinsey Publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

1952: APA Classifies Homosexuality as a Mental Disorder

1953: Kinsey Publishes Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

1953-1957: Evelyn Hooker Debunks Beliefs That Homosexuality is a “Sickness”

December 15, 1973: Homosexuality Is Delisted by the APA

Categories: History Content