In contemporary Western society, the topic of human rights for homosexuals polarizes opinion in public and professional circles. While gay men and women continue to suffer persecution, the swing of opinion has been to liberalizing attitudes toward homosexuality. Some countries have changed their laws so that homosexual acts in private between consenting adults are no longer criminal offenses. The American Psychiatric Association in 1973 changed its official classification of homosexuality to "sexual orientation disturbance". The trend has been to deemphasize the disease status of homosexuality110169175. Why then bother to include it in a book about sexual anomalies?
Although agreeing with the liberalizing of attitudes, I have included this chapter for two reasons. One aim of this book is to understand sexual anomalies. Homosexuality will remain an unusual sexual behavior in spite of any social changes and it therefore merits study in its own right. It offers one more avenue to understanding sexual behavior in general. Second, the majority of available treatments have been applied to homosexuality and not to other sexual anomalies. To discard it would ignore a great deal of our knowledge on treatment methods. We can learn from that history and perhaps we can apply much of what we have learned to other sexually anomalous behavior that has not and will likely not be socially acceptable in the near future. Knowing what treatments are available for homosexuality and knowing their outcome offers the maximum freedom to the individual. Some homosexuals may wish to change their sexual orientation in spite of social reform. They, as well as therapists, should know the extent to which this is possible. Clinicians who are concerned with relieving the suffering of