US lawmakers have called on the US Defense Department to withdraw a document which states that homosexuality is a "mental disorder."
Researchers recently found the Pentagon's directive 1332.38, on "physical disability evaluation," which includes homosexuality in a list of "mental disorders," along with mental retardation and personality disorders.
The November 1996 document was re-certified as "current" in 2003, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognized that such a classification was a mistake.
Rep. Marty Meehan, Massachusetts
"It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognized that such a classification was a mistake," Representative Marty Meehan of Massachusetts said.
"There is no scientific basis for such a classification, which leads me to believe that the classification is motivated by something more sinister," he added.
Meehan and eight other members of Congress sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday calling for changes.
They said "any inadvertent outdated language" should be updated so that military regulations are consistent "and in keeping with the American Psychiatric Association's stance reaffirming that 'homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or general social and vocational capabilities.'"
Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Martin, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP the document is "currently under review."
The lawmakers also called for a general review of the US military's policies and medical regulations. They estimated that there are about 65,000 homosexual and bisexual members of the US armed forces.
Since 1993, he said the US military has had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy under which gays and lesbians are tolerated as long as they do not make their sexual orientation public. Openly homosexual soldiers are forced to leave the service.
According to a Congress watchdog report released last year, the US Army has spent 200 million dollars in 10 years to replace the estimated 10,000 homosexual soldiers forced to leave the military.