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FLASHBACK: APA Removes Homosexuality From Mental Disorder List (December 15, 1973)

December 15, 1973: Today in LGBTQ+ history…

It was a major step forward for what would become the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

By the early 1950s, homosexuality was seen as an emerging threat and beginning in 1951, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-I) classified homosexuality as a mental illness.

But those views were challenged 44 years ago when, on December 15, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) voted to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

The New York Times alerted the world with this Page One announcement:

The American Psychiatric Association, altering a position it has held for nearly a century, decided today that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. The board of trustees of the 20,000 member organization approved a resolution that said in part, “by itself, homosexuality does not meet the criteria for being a psychiatric disorder.” Persons who are troubled by their homosexuality, the trustees said, will be classified as having a “sexual orientation disturbance” should they come to a psychiatrist for help.

The full APA would go on to ratify the policy statement the following year.

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