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.