Amid the push for same-sex unions in Canada and the recent overturning of Texas' sodomy law, an aspect of the underlying issue is sometimes overlooked: the medical consequences of homosexual behavior.
To shed light on the medical and scientific research into same-sex attraction and homosexual behavior, ZENIT approached Dr. Rick Fitzgibbons. Fitzgibbons is a principal contributor to the Catholic Medical Association's statement on "Homosexuality and Hope."
Q: Could you explain why homosexuality is not normal, from a medical standpoint?
Fitzgibbons: Homosexuality was diagnosed and treated as a psychiatric illness abnormal behavior until 1973, when it was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in psychiatry because of political pressure.
Numerous conflicts make homosexual behaviors abnormal, including rampant promiscuity, inability to maintain commitment, psychiatric disorders and medical illnesses with a shortened life span.
The sexual practices of homosexuals involve serious health risks and illness. Specifically, sodomy as a sexual behavior is associated with significant and life-threatening health problems.
Unhealthy sexual behaviors occur among both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Yet the medical and social science evidence indicate that homosexual behavior is uniformly unhealthy. Men having sex with other men leads to greater health risks than men having sex with women, not only because of promiscuity but also because of the nature of sex among men.
Q: Is homosexuality associated specifically with psychological problems? Can an active homosexual lifestyle lead to adverse psychological consequences?
Fitzgibbons: Two extensive studies appearing in the October 1999 issue of the American Medical Association's Archives of General Psychiatry confirm a strong link between homosexual sex and suicide, as well as a relationship between homosexuality and emotional and mental problems.
One of the studies in the journal, by David M. Fergusson and his team, found that "gay, lesbian and bisexual young people are at increased risk of psychiatric disorder and suicidal behaviors."
The youth suffering from these disorders were four times as likely as their peers to suffer from major depression, almost three times as likely to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, nearly four times as likely to experience conduct disorder, five times as likely to have nicotine dependence, six times as likely to suffer from multiple disorders, and over six times as likely to have attempted suicide.
An extensive study in the Netherlands undermines the assumption that homophobia is the cause of increased psychiatric illness among gays and lesbians. The Dutch have been considerably more accepting of same-sex relationships than other Western countries in fact, same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry in the Netherlands.
So a high rate of psychiatric disorders associated with homosexual behavior in the Netherlands means that psychiatric disease cannot be attributed to social rejection and homophobia. The Dutch study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, did indeed find a high rate of psychiatric disease associated with same-sex sex behaviors.
Compared to controls who had no homosexual experience in the 12 months prior to the interview, males who had any homosexual contact within that time period were much more likely to experience major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Females with any homosexual contact within the previous 12 months were more often diagnosed with major depression, social phobia or alcohol dependence.
In fact, those with a history of homosexual contact had higher prevalence of nearly all psychiatric disorders measured in the study.
Also, a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health has shown that 39% of males with same-sex attraction have been abused by other males with same-sex attraction.
Q: What are the medical illnesses associated with homosexuality?
Fitzgibbons: The list of medical diseases found with extraordinary frequency among male homosexual practitioners as a result of abnormal homosexual behavior is alarming: anal cancer, chlamydia trachomatis, cryptosporidium, giardia lamblia, herpes simplex virus, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV, human papilloma virus HPV or genital warts isospora belli, microsporidia, gonorrhea, viral hepatitis types B and C, and syphilis.
Sexual transmission of some of these diseases is so rare in the exclusively heterosexual population as to be virtually unknown. Others, while found among heterosexual and homosexual practitioners, are clearly predominated by those involved in homosexual activity.
Men who have sex with men account for the lion's share of the increasing number of cases in America of sexually transmitted infections that are not generally spread through sexual contact.
These diseases, with consequences that range from severe and even life-threatening to mere annoyances, include hepatitis A, giardia lamblia, entamoeba histolytica, Epstein-Barr virus, neisseria meningitides, shigellosis, salmonellosis, pediculosis, scabies and campylobacter.
Q: Many professional medical groups have stopped classifying homosexuality as abnormal behavior, and pro-homosexual organizations actively promote it as just another option that is perfectly normal. Is this responsible from a medical point of view?
Fitzgibbons: Most medical groups have embraced the homosexual agenda and are advocating that lifestyle, despite all of the scientific studies and medical evidence that demonstrate medical and psychological risks. It seems the politically correct homosexual agenda is trumping science.
Doctors have a responsibility to inform their clients of the dangers of a homosexual lifestyle. In his study "The Health Risks of Gay Sex," my colleague Dr. John R. Diggs Jr. wrote, "As a physician, it is my duty to assess behaviors for their impact on health and well-being. When something is beneficial, such as exercise, good nutrition or adequate sleep, it is my duty to recommend it. Likewise, when something is harmful, such as smoking, overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, it is my duty to discourage it. ...
"There are differences between men and women in the consequences of same-sex activity. But most importantly, the consequences of homosexual activity are distinct from the consequences of heterosexual activity. As a physician, it is my duty to inform patients of the health risks of gay sex, and to discourage them from indulging in harmful behavior."
Same-sex attraction is a manifestation of serious emotional conflicts that are preventable and treatable. Gender Identity Disorder in children regularly leads to same-sex attractions in adolescence, and now there's even a move to remove it from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
The media or major health organizations communicate none of the serious medical and psychiatric problems associated with homosexuality. School programs don't present this information, so children are encouraged and taught that the homosexual lifestyle is a healthy alternative to marriage.
These youngsters are not being told about the dangers of this lifestyle. I think schools and school psychologists should be legally liable because they are not providing informed consent while promoting the homosexual lifestyle.
Also, pediatricians know children raised without a father are subjected to serious psychological problems, and raising a child without a mother also predisposes the child to serious emotional and mental illnesses.
Q: Legalizing abnormal behavior would seem to dissuade people from seeking the help they need to overcome it. Would that be a fair assessment?
Fitzgibbons: I think that is a very fair assessment. There are attempts to prevent people from seeking help for same-sex attraction. There's definitely a movement to stop mental health professionals from providing treatment.
The Spitzer report from the Archives of Sexual Behavior, which will publish in October, surveyed ex-homosexuals who were out of the lifestyle for five years, and it found that 64% of the men and 43% of the women considered themselves to be heterosexuals after they received treatment. Dr. Spitzer of Columbia University led the task force of the American Psychiatric Association in 1973 that removed homosexuality from our diagnostic manual.
In a number of studies, when people with same-sex attraction were treated, a third of the patients get better, a third get mixed results, and a third don't get better. In my clinical experience, when a spiritual component is brought in to the treatment, the recovery rate is much higher.
Q: What do you think would be the long-term impact of legalized same-sex unions? How would this affect future generations?
Fitzgibbons: Marriage between a man and a woman is based on commitment and is an expression of Judeo-Christian morality. Same-sex unions are based on neo-pagan, Kinseyian morality that doesn't expect loyalty.
In a recent study from a major journal conducted on males, it found that males in same-sex unions stayed together for an average length of two years, and would regularly have sex with others outside of the relationship.
In this Amsterdam study, 86% of new HIV infections occurred in men who considered themselves to be in same-sex unions.
Same-sex unions cause emotional trauma and pain to individuals, and damage to the culture. Equating same-sex unions with marriage is a false belief it's delusional.
Q: What about adoptions by homosexual couples? How would that affect the children involved?
Fitzgibbons: The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a document on homosexuality that addressed adoptions by homosexual couples. The statement noted that intentionally depriving a child of a father or mother is doing violence to that child. The office's document and the Catechism of the Catholic Church's section on homosexuality are supported by medical science.
Also, raising children in an environment with same-sex parents goes against the values of the common inheritance of humanity. The absence of a father in the home leads to sadness, anger, difficulty in trusting and conflict disorders. The absence of a mother is worse. One's mother is one's fundamental basis of feeling safe in relationships; denying a child of a mother wounds the child's ability to trust and have faith in the world, which can lead to anxiety and attachment disorders.
Children should not be subjected to this cruel deprivation, as it does serious damage. Even Belgium, which approves of same-sex unions, does not allow same-sex couples to adopt. Not all adults necessarily have the inherent right to have a child. But all children have a right to a mother and a father.
Q: What are the psychological strategies in the homosexual agenda?
Fitzgibbons: The homosexual agenda aims to desensitize people to homosexuality via the media and "diversity weeks" held in many schools including Catholic colleges and high schools.
It portrays those who oppose homosexual behavior and unions as being troubled, in violation of the law and in need of help, similar to those who have racial prejudices. It also attempts to claim that homosexuality is genetically determined in spite of research studies that fail to support this theory.
And of course, the main goal is to convert people to the homosexual agenda.
Q: What can Catholics do to protect the sacrament of marriage?
Fitzgibbons: Catholics can pray more for the protection of marriage and families and can learn the truth about homosexuality by seeking information at reliable Web sites: the International Association of Catholic Medical Associations at www.Fiamc.org; the Catholic Medical Association at www.cathmed.org; and the National Association for the Treatment and Research of Homosexuality at www.narth.com.
They can communicate the fullness of the Church's truth about sexuality in their family, their parish and in their children's schools.
They can also support the proposed marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
And they can ask priests to offer prayers for marriages as part of the daily petitions at Mass.
The above interview with Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons was conducted by Zenit on September 18, 2003
ZENIT is an International News Agency based in Rome whose mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media.
Reprinted with permission from Zenit - News from Rome. All rights reserved.
Rick Fitzgibbons is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia. He has coauthored Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope with Dr. Robert D. Enright. APA Books also offers a DVD on forgiveness by him and Dr. Enright. Dr. Fitzgibbons has served as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at Catholic University and has been a consultant to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican. He has authored a number of articles on gender dysphoria. His websites are maritalhealing.com and childhealing.com.Copyright © 2003 Zenit