Legal and Policy Implications in Mexico of Changes in ICD-11 Paraphilic Disorders

J Sex Med. 2019 Oct;16(10):1623-1637. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2019.07.022. Epub 2019 Sep 9.


Introduction: The World Health Organization (WHO) has made substantial changes to the classification of paraphilic disorders for the Eleventh Revision of the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), recently approved by the World Health Assembly. The most important is to limit paraphilic disorders primarily to persistent and intense patterns of atypical sexual arousal involving non-consenting individuals, manifested through persistent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, or behaviors, that have resulted in action or significant distress.

Aim: To analyze the legal, regulatory, and policy implications of the changes in the ICD-11 classification of paraphilic disorders for forensic practice, health systems, adjudication of sex offenders, and the provision of treatment in Mexico.

Methods: An expert Mexican advisory group was appointed to conduct this evaluation following an assessment guide provided by the WHO.

Main outcome measures: The WHO assessment guide covered (i) laws related to sexual behaviors; (ii) the relationship between legal and clinical issues for non-forensic health professionals; (iii) implications of mental disorder classification for forensic practice; (iv) other implications of ICD-11 paraphilic disorders proposals; and (v) contextual issues.

Results: A variety of factors in Mexico make it highly unlikely that appropriate, evidence-based treatments for paraphilic disorders will be provided to those who need them, even if they seek treatment voluntarily and have not committed a crime. Mexican law focuses on the punishment of specific sexual behaviors rather than on underlying disorders. A paraphilic disorder would not be considered sufficient grounds for exemption from criminal responsibility. The application and scope of mental health evaluations in Mexican legal proceedings are quite limited, and individuals who commit sexual crimes almost never undergo forensic evaluations to establish the presence of paraphilic disorders. Psychiatric services may be mandated for sex offenders in highly specific circumstances but cannot exceed the duration of the criminal sentence.

Clinical implications: Evaluation and treatment guidelines should be developed based on international evidence and standards and promulgated for use with individuals with paraphilic disorders in forensic and non-forensic poopulations. The much greater specificity and operationalization of the ICD-11 guidelines as compared with the ICD-10 guidelines provide a better basis for identification and case formulation.

Strengths & limitations: Major strengths of this analyses were that it was conducted to facilitate international comparability across several participating countries and the fact that it was conducted by a diverse multidisciplinary group representing various relevant legal, forensic and and clinical sectors. A limitation was that it was only possible to examine relevant federal laws and those of Mexico City rather than those of all 32 Mexican states.

Conclusion: The descriptions of paraphilic disorders in the ICD-11 could support substantial improvements in the treatment of individuals with paraphilic disorders and the adjudication of sex offenders in Mexico, but specific changes in Mexican law would be required. Martínez-López JNI, Robles R, Fresán A, et al. Legal and Policy Implications in Mexico of Changes in ICD-11 Paraphilic Disorders. J Sex Med 2019;16:1623-1637.

Keywords: Disorders Of Sexual Preference; Forensic Psychiatry; ICD-10; ICD-11; Paraphilic Disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Criminals / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders
  • Mexico
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology