Last month the Lebanese Psychiatric Society (LPS) issued a statement declaring that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. The statement reads:
“Homosexuality is not a mental disorder and does not need to be treated.
Homosexuality in itself does not cause any defect in judgment, stability, reliability or social and professional abilities.
The assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
The statement puts Lebanon in step with prevailing medical practices, which have largely not considered homosexuality a disorder since 1973.
The LPS also stated that “the assumption that homosexuality is a result of disturbances in the family dynamic or unbalanced psychological development is based on wrong information.”
Currently, the LPS is the only psychiatric association in the Arab world to explicitly state that it does not consider homosexuality as a treatable ailment.
Ramzy Haddad, a Lebanese psychiatrist speaking on behalf of the LPS, said that the statement was issued in response to a significant increase in the media classifying homosexuality as a disease that can and should be cured.
“So we decided to highlight and specify the scientific data concerning the issue,” Haddad says.
Asked whether he hopes other associations in the Middle East will follow suit, he said, “our statement is based on scientifically proven methods and treatments, so we only hope other societies will also highlight the scientific evidence on that issue.”
However, even within the Lebanese psychiatric community, there remains a division in attitudes towards homosexuality.
Salah Asfour, a clinical psychiatrist in Lebanon who considers homosexuality as “individually blurred sexual orientation triggered by a multifactorial etiology,” says that there is already a backlash triggered by some of his colleagues, who are against legalizing homosexuality.
Currently, male homosexual activity is illegal in a majority of Arab countries, with the death penalty applicable in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.