The Sideshow

California doctor diagnosed man with ‘homosexual behavior’ illness


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Matthew Moore's health assessment listed his sexual orientation as a mental illness (NBC4)

Matthew Moore's health assessment listed his sexual orientation as a mental illness (NBC4)

Same sex marriage may now be legal in California, but that hasn’t stopped at least one doctor from still diagnosing being gay as an illness.

Mathew Moore said he was visiting his doctor earlier this year when she returned a diagnosis of “homosexual behavior” on his health chart.

Moore, who is gay, said he noticed the unusual labeling after his visit. The tests also showed a B-12 deficiency as well as high blood pressure and cholesterol. When Moore, 45, returned to the doctor for a follow-up visit, he discovered yet another so-called “chronic condition” on his record: being gay.

"When I look up code 302.0, and it's sexual deviancy or mental illness, and that code has been removed or suggested heavily not to be used since 1973," Moore said in an interview with local affiliate NBC4.

A “302” listing allows medical professionals or even law enforcement to detain an individual and provide an assessment of their mental well-being to ensure they are not a threat to themselves or others. A full explanation of the code reads:

“The reasons for seeking a 302 are that a person exhibiting severe mental disability poses a present danger to self or others. The person will be taken to a hospital for an examination. At the hospital, a doctor decides whether the person needs hospitalization or not. If the person is not hospitalized he/she is returned to the community where he/she was picked up.”

Needless to say, that diagnosis shocked Moore.

"My jaw was on the floor. At first, I kind of laughed, I thought, 'Here's another way that gay people are lessened and made to feel less-than,' and then as I thought about it and as I dealt with it, it angered me," he added.

However, Moore said he wasn’t laughing when he confronted the doctor about the diagnosis, a decision she defended.

"I was dumbfounded," Moore said, noting that the doctor told him that the possibility of homosexuality being a mental illness or disease “is still up to debate.”

After the unsatisfying response, Moore wrote a letter to the Torrance Memorial Physician Network, which oversees his doctor’s geographic area of practice. The group quickly sent Moore a letter of apology. It also refunded his $30 copay.

"We fully appreciate your frustration and anger related to your experience and are committed to ensuring that such events are not repeated," Heidi Assigal, senior director of Torrance Health Association Inc., wrote in the letter.

"We would like to unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition and we do not endorse or approve of the use of Code 302.0 as a diagnosis for homosexuality."

For his part, Moore says he doesn’t plan to sue his former doctor and wants to keep her anonymous. Instead, he said he told his story so that individuals living in areas where gay rights are still less solidified can see his story and use it as inspiration for taking action after suffering through an incident of prejudice or bigotry.

"If I was a 14-year-old in a small town in Indiana, where I'm from, and I had a doctor tell me or my parents that I was sick because they thought I was gay, it would've been very damaging," he told NBC4.

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