While homosexuality has long been a subject of debate in religion, culture and even law; it was first studied as a discrete entity by the discipline of Psychology and Psychiatric Science. Till the 1970’s The DSM conceptualized homosexuality as a mental disorder and a sexual deviation. This was illustrative of the extent of stigmatization and prejudice against homosexuality of those times as both culture and science rejected homosexuality as ‘unnatural.’ However, with the evolvement of Medical Science, as well as changing views of society, we have come to understand the phenomenon of same-sex orientation in terms of genetic, hormonal, developmental, social and cultural factors. While there is no research that has been able to pin-point any one concluding factor that determines homosexuality, it is believed to be a complex interplay between genetics, hormonal and environmental factors.
Today, science is able to tell us clearly that most people do not experience any choice in the matter of sexual orientation.
As an official recognition of the overwhelming facts revealed by various scientific research studies that confirmed the hormonal and genetic basis of Homosexuality, it was dropped as a mental disorder, disease or sexual perversion from DSM in 1973. The clear stand of all organizations dealing mental health, including the WHO and the ICD, is that they do not recognize homosexuality as a disease or a mental disorder.
Science has been effective in taking away homosexuality from the realms of morality as an individual does not ‘choose’ to be homosexual but is widely-believed to be ‘wired’ that way. It is safe to assume that being homosexual should no longer be looked at from a moral standpoint but rather that of science.
And “orientation is not a matter of choice,” this is a clear fact of medical science. And what’s not a disorder, is not to be treated, more so even an attempt to treatment has no meaning, as its lack a scientific basis. Decades back people used to treat left handedness as an abnormality, and many a children were scolded, and given punishment until they were forcefully made to start becoming right-handed. It had a negative impact on hundreds of children in their growing years, and now people have accepted that handedness is not a matter of choice, and either way it is normal. In a very similar manner, today, a lot of people have not been able to understand that orientation is not a matter of choice, and it is not to be treated! Despite the growing acceptance of homosexuality as a non-pathological state by medicine and science, people with same-sex orientations are still subject to stigmatization, ridicule and isolation by society. This lack of social acceptance leads to increased susceptibility of the gay and lesbian community to depression, anxiety and other forms of mental illness. Absence of family support often deters a gay person from ‘coming out of the closet’ which can lead to a great amount of stress and feelings of guilt, frustration or sadness in the person. Regardless of our personal, religious or moral opinions about sexuality or sexual orientation, it is our responsibility as a community to create an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance rather than beget prejudice and stigmatization of individuals we perceive to be different or in a minority.