Debunking Another Hate Crimes Lie

One of the things that I have found most confusing about the Right’s completely deranged opposition to hate crimes legislation is the insistence that the legislation would “protect” things like pedophilia and bestiality because they claim such things fall under the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of “sexual orientation” resulting in statements such as this:

But this bill goes MUCH, MUCH FARTHER that simply prosecuting violent crime — it creates a new “protected class” of people that would now be protected under “hate crimes” definitions. That means that this bill will protect all 547 forms of sexual deviancy or “Paraphilias” listed by the American Psychiatric Association! This would provide a HUGE MASS of “sacred cows” in our society, which includes pedophiles who would be given elevated protection — giving “the offender” an additional decade behind bars.

And that “offender” could be YOU! If a pedophile tries to molest your daughter, or your nephew, or your granddaughter, or some little boy in the street — if you step in and beat the pedophile to get him away, YOU could spend ten years in prison for your “offense”!

There are so many blatantly false claims here it is hard to know where to start.  

We could point out that it doesn’t create a “new” protected class, it simply adds “sexual orientation” to the list of existing protected classes such as race and religion. Or we could point out that the legislation doesn’t legalize illegal behavior like pedophilia and that the idea that someone would be charged with a hate crime from fending off an attack from a pedophile is flagrantly absurd.  

But since so much of this sort of nonsense is rooted in the idea that the legislation would somehow rely on the APA’s definition of the term instead of the already existing definition used in federal law that it warrants a thorough debunking.

And that is exactly what Jim Burroway provided with this excellent post which I am going to excerpt extensively here because it does an excellent job of clearly and concisely exposing the Right’s lies on this issue and closes with a killer quote from Dr. Jack Drescher, a member of the APA’s DSM-V Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders:

[I]t turns out that the APA’s official definition [of “sexual orientation”] is not much different from the federal government’s. The APA’s official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR, 2000) offers a very precise definition of how clinicians should describe a client’s sexual orientation:

For sexually mature individuals, the following specifiers may be noted based on the individual’s sexual orientation: Sexually Attracted to Males, Sexually Attracted to Females, Sexually Attracted to Both, and Sexually Attracted to Neither. [Emphasis in the original]

In other words, the APA defines only four sexual orientations. And they do so in order to provide a consistent description of an individual’s sexual orientation. It is not a diagnosis itself, since homosexuality is not listed as a mental disorder. And just so everyone’s clear on exactly what the APA means by their very short description of sexual orientation, they provided an expanded discussion on their web site:

Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).

So where did the list of thirty “sexual orientations” come from? Let’s turn again to the APA’s DSM-IV-TR, under the heading of “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” namely the APA’s examples of sexual paraphilias:

The Paraphilias are characterized by recurrent, intense sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors that involve unusual objects, activities, or situations and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Paraphilias include Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestic Fetishism, Voyeurism, and Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified.

The DSM goes further, identifying specific criteria for diagnosing these various paraphilias, something that the DSM does not do for sexual orientation. And the reason is simple: sexual paraphilias are mental disorders according to the DSM, while homosexuality is not. Which is why the DSM devotes several pages to sexual paraphilias, but none to consensual adult homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality.

The APA is in the process of updating the DSM, and Dr. Jack Drescher is a member of the DSM-V Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders. I asked him to comment on the deliberate confusion anti-gay activists are trying to sow. He replied:

Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, nor would pedophiles be covered by a law protecting people for their sexual orientation. Religious social conservatives who oppose gay rights are using terms that sound like science, as opposed to actual science, to make unwarranted and malicious comparisons between homosexuality and pedophilia. Not only is this scare tactic untruthful, it reveals how little respect some religious conservative leaders have for the intelligence of the people they are trying to persuade.