Washington A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.
The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.
Critics said the reference underscores the Pentagon's failing policies on gays, and adds to a culture that has created uncertainty and insecurity around the treatment of homosexual service members, leading to anti-gay harassment.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin said the policy document is under review.
The Pentagon has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.
The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, uncovered the document and pointed to it as further proof that the military deserves failing grades for its treatment of gays.
Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the center, said, "The policy reflects the department's continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays and lesbians to access mental health services."
The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, was condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Assn.