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Hong Kong: Sexual Orientation Conversion Advocated by Government

Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy (SOCT) attempts to change the sexual orientation of a person from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. It is a very controversial practice in many countries as it reproduces prejudices against sexual minorities; mainstream medical and scientific organizations consider it potentially harmful.

Nevertheless, in June 2011, the Hong Kong Government Social Welfare Department took the initiative to invite the Chairman of Christian SOCT organisation New Creation, Dr Kong Kwai Wah, to train the department's social workers in  “converting” their young clients’ sexual orientation.

The move has outraged the LGBT communities in Hong Kong. A coalition, Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting, was formed to launch a global petition campaign against the Hong Kong government:

We are shocked and enraged, that the Hong Kong government invited Dr Kong Kwai Wah, the Chairman of New Creation and an advocate of reparative therapy, to train the staff of the Social Welfare Department in dealing with gay clients.

Reparative therapy has been widely rejected by professionals as unethical, discriminative, unscientific and potentially harmful. The introduction of such “therapy” infringes the professional ethics that objects discrimination.  Furthermore, it might have potential harms to clients.

We urge the Hong Kong government to apologize, and cooperate with the LGBT community and professionals, to provide its staffs with diversity training and issue concrete guidelines, to ensure that its service is scientific, professional, ethical and truly responsive to the need of LGBT community.

More than 20,000 signatures have been collected. In addition, a solidarity protest led by LGBT Asian American groups took place in New York back in August 2011:

At the same time, local LGBT groups issued [pdf] a press release accusing the Social Welfare Department of violating the Guidelines on Code of Practice for Registered Social Workers, the World Health Organization's position on sexual orientation, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Guidelines on Sex Educations in Schools issued by the Curriculum Development Council of HKSAR, the Code of Professional Conduct by Medical Council and the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders.

LGBT activists protest against the Social Welfare Department's role in promoting Conversion Therapy

LGBT activists protest against the Social Welfare Department's role in promoting Conversion Therapy

However, the Social Welfare Department denied that the seminar had anything to do with sexual orientation conversion and local right wing Christian group Truth-light [zh] also defended the government and accused the LGBT activists for over-reacting and twisting the purpose of the seminar.

The Director of Truth-light Sum Choi wrote in his blog [zh]:

其實有關團體舉辦的根本不是甚麼「拗直治療」,而是一些人對自己的性傾向有疑惑,或者因著信仰、良心同其他原因,對自己的性傾向產生不安,向他們尋求輔導。有關團體一向的態度都是尊重求助者自己的意願,不會強逼任何人改變自己的性傾向,只是當一些人主動想改變的時候,為他們提供支援。

其實現時香港一些同志團體並不弱勢,反而十分霸道,最弱勢的是一些想改變自己性傾向的同性戀者,因為一些不想改變的同性戀者,想強逼所有同性戀者與他們一樣,不准任何人選擇改變自己的性傾向,亦不准任何人協助他們。這是對一些同志團口口聲聲要求其他人尊重他們的性傾向、爭取一個多元的社會的最大諷刺,亦都是對人權的扭曲。

The function has nothing to do with “conversion therapy”. It is about counseling service for those who have doubts about their sexual orientation and those who have anxiety about their sexual orientation because of their religious belief and conscience. The organization would respect people's choice and won't force them to change their sexual orientation. They would only offer help when they want to change it.

The gay groups in Hong Kong are not weak, in fact their are overly vocal. The weakest party are the homosexuals who want to change their sexual orientation because they are forced not to make a choice and not to reach out for help by those homosexuals who don't want to change their sexual orientation. This is such an irony for a diverse society and human rights.

While the Social Welfare Department had refused to publicize the details of the seminar, LGBT activists have managed to collect a list of related documents published in their newly launched webpage “WiGayLeaks” [zh]. The documents show that the seminar is based on the “sick model” assumption with an attempt to convince the attendees that “same sex attraction is curable” and draw co-relation between homosexuality with AIDS and other sexual transmitted diseases.

The following documents have exposed the Social Welfare Department's role in organizing the conversion seminar:

  1. The Social Welfare Department's invitation letter [pdf] to the Chairman of New Creation, Dr Hong.
  2. Announcement [pdf] of the class to the department's social workers.
  3. A set of class notes [pdf, zh] of the seminar.
  4. An analysis of the class notes [pdf, zh] according to a report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (2009).

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