No scientific basis for gay-specific mental disorders, WHO panel concludes

Published: July 2, 2014


The World Health Organization is developing the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), planned for publication in 2017. The Working Group on the Classification of Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health was charged with reviewing and making recommendations on disease categories related to sexuality in the chapter on mental and behavioural disorders in the10th revision (ICD-10), published in 1990. This chapter includes categories for diagnoses based primarily on sexual orientation even though ICD-10 states that sexual orientation alone is not a disorder. This article reviews the scientific evidence and clinical rationale for continuing to include these categories in the ICD. A review of the evidence published since 1990 found little scientific interest in these categories. In addition, the Working Group found no evidence that they are clinically useful: they neither contribute to health service delivery or treatment selection nor provide essential information for public health surveillance. Moreover, use of these categories may create unnecessary harm by delaying accurate diagnosis and treatment. The Working Group recommends that these categories be deleted entirely from ICD-11. Health concerns related to sexual orientation can be better addressed using other ICD categories.

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