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December 2010: Homosexuality still a mental disorder in Alberta

December 2010: Homosexuality still a mental disorder in Alberta

UPDATE: In a heated conversation with Xtra this afternoon Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky explained the second he learned homosexuality remained on the list of the Alberta government's mental disorders he acted to have it removed. Asked why it remained on the list long after its removal from China's list four years ago, the minister demanded, "Don't go there with me. I'm not going to be pointing fingers at the past. That's the end of the story."

Zwozdesky advised us to confirm the removal on the Alberta Health and Wellness site for ourselves: "Take a look because it was done in eight minutes."

A comparison between the revised Alberta Health and Wellness Diagnostic Codes pdf hosted on their site, and the old version below, reveals the ministry deleted the page listing "homosexuality," specifically page 66, though that move also eliminated bestiality, paedophilia, frigidity and impotence, alcohol dependence syndrome and drug dependence. 

As for an apology to gay and lesbian Albertans, Zwozdesky is curt: "you'd better ask the World Health Organization."




One day a popular trivia question will read: name the country with the province where homosexuality continued to be included on a list of mental disorders four years after China removed it from their own. Answer: Canada!

Thanks to the work of activist Rob Wells and journalist Karen Kleiss it was revealed Tuesday the province with the highest GDP in Canada not only continues to list homosexuality as a mental disorder, but doctors in the province billed using the diagnostic code for homosexuality 1,782 times between 1995 and 2004.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky

While the latest reports say Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky has vowed to remove homosexuality from the list (a move in accord with declassifications by the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 and the Canadian Psychiatric Association in 1982), documents show the same promise was made in 1998 by then-health minister Halvar Jonson.

In a letter dated July 27, 1998, Jonson assures Liberal Heath Critic Gary Dickson the classification will be updated:

"A new coding structure has been developed which Alberta Health is considering. This new coding will address the concerns regarding the classification of the diagnostic code for homosexuality."

Following this week's public disclosure, Zwozdesky made the same promise: "It is simply an incorrect and unacceptable classification and I’ve ordered it to be removed immediately.”

We'll believe it when we see it.

Xtra has contacted the office of the Alberta health minister to confirm its removal but has yet to receive a response. 

Perhaps the broom closet dedicated to the struggle for gay rights at the nearby Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg can reserve a space beside the mop buckets for commemorating this pivotal moment in Alberta's history.

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Kudos to human rights
Kudos to human rights activist Rob Wells and Alberta journalist Karen Kleiss for first reporting on this story. A gay investigative journalist should do a story on what other countries and jurisdictions still classify homosexuality as a mental disorder and whether homosexuals in those countries are still subject to medical torture (e.g., electroconvulsive therapy, lobotomies and castration) like homosexuals were in the West in the last century.
The amount of laws, bylaws
The amount of laws, bylaws and rules etc Canadians are exposed to at all levels of government combined are staggering and number into the 100s of thousands with several hundred new laws added each and every day across the country.

While the bureaucrats excel at adding rules they don't share the same enthusiasm for doing away with redundant ones such as in Alberta it is still illegal to paint a wooden ladder red or in NB it is against the law to kiss your wife on a Sunday.

It is an obvious governmental oversight and demanding an apology of the Minister is childish and reinforces the stereotype of the perpetually offended homosexual.
Ron, PTSD and depression
Ron, PTSD and depression comes from having been abused and traumatized --by exclusion from jobs, beatings, insults, nasty gossip, and comments like yours.
All I can say is that I am
All I can say is that I am not at all surprised that all my homophobic relatives have moved to Alberta in the last decade, nor am I shocked that this Zwozdesky oddball will not apologize. Although I have met a number of queer-friendly Albertans, the province as a whole strikes me as being ridiculously homophobic. Congratulations if homosexuality has actually been removed from their list of mental disorders, but I refuse to believe anything Zwozdesky says unless it has been thoroughly backed up by at least six independent sources. If he refuses to apologize to the community, hold his feet to the fire. Living in Alberta does NOT give him the right to pass the buck on this level of homophobia.

P.S. Ron- bloody well quit trolling this site. I should very much like to read the news without seeing your brainless addenda.
Almost all homosexuals have
Almost all homosexuals have mental illnesses of some sort. Depression, PTSD, anxiety, bipolar...all common among gay men.
Sorry Minister Zwozdesky,
Sorry Minister Zwozdesky, you can't blame this one on the WHO. It's your office what has been aware of this atrocious hateful propaganda since 1998 and yet your department has knowingly, willfully and continually been violating Alberta's Human Rights Act since for over 12 years. Come on Gene! BE A MAN AND APOLOGIZE! Rob Wells - Edmonton
Yeah, Peter there's nothing
Yeah, Peter there's nothing ridiculous or homophobic about this story. Clearly Xtra's got the problem not the Alberta government- who actually should rightly be ridiculed for their stupidity all over the world for a very long time.
I think Xtra needs to view
I think Xtra needs to view this as a victory and needs to move on. Even if it is almost 2011 the government of Alberta corrected it.
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