32 years have passed since the WHO eliminated homosexuality as a mental illness

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This community still continues to face difficulties.

Photo: YAMIL LAGE / AFP / Getty Images

On May 17, 1990, WHO removed homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and currently experts from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) point out that there is now a general consensus that homosexuality is a natural variant of human sexuality and cannot be considered a pathological condition.

Among other advances, they point to the rejection of “conversion therapies” aimed at changing sexual orientation, which lack medical and scientific justification and represent a serious threat to the health and well-being of the people subjected to them, according to a technical document published by PAHO/WHO in 2012. There is also an emerging consensus today that transgender identity, like homosexuality, does not qualify as a disorder.

Another advance during the last 15 years was a resolution approved in September 2013 by the ministers of health of the Americas, meeting at PAHO, calling to reduce disparities in the access and use of health services by the LGBT population.

“The resolution recognizes that stigma and discrimination have real and adverse effects on LGBT people, creating barriers that range from outright denial of care to poor care and mistaken assumptions about the causes of people’s health problems. LGBT,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Étienne.

Senior health officials from across the Americas pledged to work to eradicate stigma and discrimination in health services and address other challenges, particularly the lack of health information for the LGBT population.

Few health information systems take into account variables such as sexual orientation or gender identity, and this means that LGBT people are often invisible in health systems, with serious consequences for individual and public health,” said Etienne.

Available information indicates that LGBT people experience greater health disparities and worse outcomes than heterosexuals. Have higher rates of HIV infection, depression, anxiety, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, suicide, and suicidal ideation as a result of chronic stress, social isolation and lack of connection with various health and support services.

Another challenge is the lack of skills of health professionals to understand and address the specific problems of this group.

Currently, several countries in the Americas are carrying out health system reforms, discussing, reviewing and formulating policies and legislation based on human rights, and creating specific services for the LGBT population in order to advance towards universal access to health and universal health coverage. .

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