Japan: Psychiatrists Remove Homosexuality from List of Disorders

The Tokyo based Association for the Lesbian and Gay Movement, OCCUR, confirms that according to correspondence they have received from the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (JPSN), that professional association has ceased to regard homosexuality as an sexual perversion. Following the move of the Japanese Government, the board of trustees of the JPSN voted to adopt the diagnostic manual approved by the World Health Organization, the ICD-10, as their official classification guide. JSPN correspondence to OCCUR states "Sexual orientation by itself is not regarded as a disorder".

The American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 not to classify homosexuality as a form of "sexual abnormality", and a similar move was taken by the World Health Organization which expressed their view that homosexual orientation is not inferior to heterosexual orientation in their ICD-10 published in 1993. Despite this, until now the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology had continued to classify homosexuality in an ambiguous and derogatory manner.

One often used Japanese textbook on psychiatric education defines homosexuality as "the tendency to seek partners of the same sex...also called 'sexual diversion': to perform the opposite role of one's sex." The practices legitimated by JSPN contradicted the consensus of most expert psychiatric bodies that homosexuality is neither a form of "sexual abnormality" nor an inferior choice of sexual orientation.

In March, 1993 OCCUR demanded that the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology express its official view on homosexuality. The JSPN promised in May of the same year to first discuss the topic and then present a response. However, the committee concerned with the concepts of disease and terminology, which is in charge of the issue, had not yet even started to discuss the issue after one year. It was only after international pressure was instigated that the JSPN relented and made its unexpected announcement.

OCCUR confirms that international pressure was instrumental in forcing the change. IGLHRC continues to be concerned that Psychiatric text books published before the change are still being used. Those text books describe homosexuality as a perversion.