Dutch psychiatrists state regret for sorrow done to LGBTIQ+ in the past

1 April, 2023 - On Thursday 30 March, the chairman of the Dutch Psychiatry Association (NVvP) Niels Mulder make a public statement in which he expressed regret for the suffering people with an LGBTIQ+ identity were inflicted in the past. This was done out of the belief at the time that being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex or queer was a disease that needed to be treated.

We look back to the past with regret

Niels Mulder: "With the eyes of today, we look back on the past with regret. We recognize the suffering that has arisen as a result. We want to turn this black page. We are aware of the fact that naming an LGBTIQ+ identity as a psychiatric disease has led to so-called "treatment" of LGBTIQ+ people. Psychiatrists have tried to turn gay men, lesbians and bisexual people into straight people, to dissuade transgender people from gender reassignment and to make all people either male or female. We recognize that these efforts to change who someone is deep down and who someone loves have caused a lot of suffering and psychological damage. We expressly state that different sexual and gender identities are natural variations that do not involve disease. As a result of, for example, minority stress and lack of acceptance, LGBTIQ+ people do have more psychological complaints, which is why we want to focus on inclusive psychiatry and LGBTIQ+ sensitive care. We also hope to contribute to reducing stigma and discrimination of LGBTIQ+ people in society.”

Public regret indicative of mainstreaming

The chairman expressed his regret on behalf of the NVvP during the Spring Congress of the professional association in the MECC in Maastricht in front of representatives of the target group, namely Philip Tijsma, spokesperson for COC Netherlands and Remke Verdegem, chairman of Transgender Netwerk Nederland and approximately 2,000 psychiatrists.
Dutch society has already a long history of LGBTIQ-affirmative therapy. First initiated by individual LGBTIQ therapists, it was later formalized and supported by a national foundation (the Schorer Foundation). Regrettably, the Schorer Foundation went bankrupt due to mismanagement of its supervisory board. But the current statement shows that the legacy of these valiant therapists and the Schorer foundation has reached a substantial level of mainstreaming.

Sources: News item of the Dutch Association for Psychiatry, You Tube video with panel discussion and statement of regret