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AngelaRayner: Most people would say that being homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual or whatever is is an orientation that one can do nothing about.  There are a very small number of people that would accept you can change orientation.  Many religions suggest that you should not be involved in homosexual acts, not that your orientation be something other than it is.

MoonShadow: "A lot of people" presumably means "A lot of westerners". Russia has only recently stopped treating homosexuality as a mental disorder, and AFAIK China still does (someone correct me).

AngelaRayner: I don't know about specific countries so some one else will have to answer.  There is a big book, used by psychologists and people interested in mental disorders called the DSM.  This stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  The DSM, I think has now reached version IV.  This is the first version to remove the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder from it.  I agree with you that only some people (I don't know whether this is just westerners) would distinguish between homosexual practice and homosexual orientation, but for purposes of discussion and compassion, I think it a true and useful definition.

MoonShadow: I think it is a true distinction, and it can be useful; however, especially for purposes of understanding and compassion, I would say that one needs to bear in mind that any form of enforced celibacy, especially if the person in question is surrounded by members of the sex they find attractive, can often lead to self-recrimination, guilt, misery and, yes, eventually, personality disorders. While homosexuality is not in itself the cause, I can see why the two have been linked in the past.

TheInquisitor: I recall reading something recently about China no longer officially treating homosexuality as a mental disorder. Given the editorial slant, that tells you very little about the actual situation.

Pallando: Current medical thinking is, I believe, that a statistically significant influencing factor is the hormone levels of the parent while the foetus is in the womb.

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