MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE TCJM DELEGATION WITH THE SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT AT 6 PM ON 23 AUGUST 2011 IN THE LADY TRENCH TRAINING CENTRE, 44 OI KWAN ROAD, WAN CHAI
Social Welfare Department (SWD)
Mrs Gloria Lee, Chief Social Work Officer (Staff Development and Training)
Mr Helios Lau, Chief Clinical Psychologist
Mr Humphrey Ng, Senior Social Work Officer (Social Work Training)
Ms Carni Hau, Social Work Officer (Training) 6
Ms Antonia Sin, Assistant Social Work Officer (Training) 2
Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM )
Mr Reggie Ho, Chairman
Mr Barry Lee, Social Worker
Dr Sam Winter, Psychologist, Hong Kong University
Mr Michael Vidler, Solicitor, Legal Adviser (to 1900 hours)
Ms Cynthia Ip, Central Committee Member, New People’s Party
Ms Olivia Jung, Clinical Psychologist (from 1815 hours; in private capacity)
Dr F.K. Tsang. Psychiatrist (from 1920 hours; in private capacity)
Ms Medeleine Mok, Amnesty International LGBT Section, Chinese Secretary
Mr Nigel Collett, Joint English Secretary
Mrs Gloria Lee welcomed the TCJM delegation and invited all those at the meeting to introduce themselves.
ITEM ONE – THE INVITATION OF DR HONG KWAI-WAH TO BE A SPEAKER BY THE SWD ON 17 JUNE 2011
Mr Reggie Ho asked why Dr Hong Kwai-wah had been invited to teach social workers and how that decision had been made.
Mrs Gloria Lee said that the Social Welfare Department (SWD) invited different speakers to speak to staff during training sessions and that they were chosen according to their work experience and relevant qualifications. The SWD acknowledged that Dr Hong had experience in working with homosexual youths.
This is an English translation of the article; please scroll down for the Chinese original.
15th July 2011
Social Welfare Department’s ‘Corrective Therapy’ maybe Discriminatary
20,000 Emails from Overseas Poured In
The World Health Organisation (WHO) not see homosexuality as a dieases; therefore corrective therapy that makes gays ‘go straight’ has long been controversial overseas. Last month, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) invited psychiatrist Dr. Hong Kawi Wah, who is famous for corrective thearapy, to give a talk to social workers. This created dissatisfaction in the Tongzhi community in Hong Kong. Also, concern groups from overseas objected to the actions of the Hong Kong government, and initiated an email campiagn to protest against the SWD. The initiative has already drawn the support of 20,000 individuals from around the world, making Hong Kong the launghing stock of the world.
On the 17th June last month, the SWD organised a talk for its social workers, titled ‘Counselling Same-sex Attracted Youth’. The speaker of the talk is Dr. Hong Kwai Wah, chairman of ‘New Creation’, a Christian-related group famous for its corrective therapy. Dr. Hong is a psychiatrist and director at The Society for Truth and Light, an organisation which has been at oddes with the Tongzhi community for its ant-homosexual stance. SWD’s hiring of Dr. Hong to instruct its social workers on counselling homosexuals has created an uproar in the Tongshi community. The community angrily accuse the government for labelling homosexuality as a diease, a practice against international standards.
Tongzhi group Rainbow Action protested outside the SWD on the day the talk was held; the protest was reported by more than 20 foreign media organisation.
Online Email Campiagn
In response to the controvesy, concern groups from overseas has initiated an email campign against the SWD, drawing the support of nearly 20,000 people world wide. The controvesy created concern from overseas; on the second day (date unclear), Truth Wins Out, an American LGBT group, and Chnage.org, a social movement group which raised 140,000 signitures supporting the release of Ai Wei Wei, banded together to organise the email campaign. Numerous psychiatrists and psychologists from overseas also left thier comments on the campign site. Some accuses the Hong Kong government as advocating corrective therapy, which they consider unscientific and inhumane. Some said that the government’s actions is the ‘shame of Hong Kong’.
Tommy, a member of Rainbow Action, stated that homosexuality has ceased to be considered a dieases by the WHO in 1990. He also remarked that many psychiatric organisations in the world are against corrective therapy, and that in 2008, the American Psychiatric Association has issued a statement condemning corrective therapy, citing potential risk of causing depression, anxiety and self-harm. ‘We demand a public apology and a promise not repeat similar action from the SWD. So far we have had no response from them. We have already been contacted by international organisations, and together we are drafting a complaint to the WHO,’ said Tommy.
SWD Claims Talk did not Touch Corrective Therapy
Cheung Kowk Tung, Legco member for the Social Work constituency and chairman of the Hong Kong Social Workers’ General Union, said he has received complaints from social workers on the discriminatory nature of the talk. He said he has contacted the SWD for more information regarding the talk, with no responses so far. He emphasised that according to social workers’ code of practice, they should not impose their values on the counselled.
A spokesman from the SWD claimed that between the 17th of June and today, the department has received 30,000 emails regarding the incident, with some of the emails being duplicates. The SWD claims that all the emails has been responded to. It also stressed that the talk on the 17th June was not to teach corrective therapy, but to provide social workers with more information regarding youth identity and sexual attraction.
外國關注團體發起網上一人一信行動，現全球有近 2萬人（見紅圈）聲討社署。事件引起國際關注，翌日美國同志組織 Truth Wins Out與收集過 14萬個簽名聲援國內藝術家艾未未的社運網站 Change.org，在網上共同發起一人一信行動，呼籲全球網友向社署發電郵抗議，根據網站資料，已有近 2萬人參與，不少外國精神科及心理醫生也在網頁留言，有人質疑社署作為政府部門帶頭鼓吹不科學、不人道的拗直治療，為香港恥辱。
「彩虹行動」成員 Tommy指出，世衞早在 1990年將同性戀在精神病名冊中除名，不再被定性為疾病，多個國際心理學會也反對「治療」同性戀，包括美國精神醫學會於 08年發出聲明指「拗直治療」潛在風險，會引致沮喪、焦慮及自毀行為。「我哋要求社署公開道歉同承諾日後唔再容許同樣情況發生，但一直冇回應，事件已引起國際社會關注，有國際關注組織聯絡我哋會介入事件，正草議文件準備向世衞投訴」。
社署發言人表示，由 6月 17日至今共收到 3萬封來自上述行動的電郵，當中有重複寄件，該署均已回應及澄清。該署強調，有關講座並非教授「改變性傾向治療」，而是為社工提供更多有關年輕人性別身份及性別吸引的資料。
This is an English translation of the article; please scroll down for the Chinese original. Words inside brackets are notes by the translator.
15th July 2011
Hong Kawi Wah only Admitts to Providing Counselling
Hong Kwai Wah has been actively advocating corrective therapy for the past 7 years. Apart from practicing psychiatry at his clinic, he also provides courses for homosexuals at ‘New Creation’, an organisation he chairs. When asked for details regarding corrective therapy, he denies that he provides treatment for homosexuals. This may or may not have to do with the international pressure (associated with the controversy).
Constant Brain-washing Through Hypnosis
According to Rainbow Action, homosexuals who attended the corrective course said that the treatment suppresses desires mainly by hypnosis, and the indoctrination of the message ‘homosexuality is sin’. (speaker identity unclear) ‘When desire for a member of the same sex arises, they ask you to take cold showers to dampen your desire. To those (course attendants) with religious beliefs, they convince you that you have fallen prey to the devil, and ask you to pray for a change in sexual orientation.’ Pastor Kelvin Wong of the Blessed Minority Church said that believers who were indoctrinated with implied messages during hyponsis dsiplayed physical revolt in the sight of a body of the same sex. Some even had symptoms of depression.
Hong Kwai Wah denied all the above charges. He emphasised that he only provides counselling to homosexuals. ‘If a homosexual wants to radicate his/her homosexuality, I would only provide counselling and assistance. That can’t be called ‘corrective therapy’,’ Hong said. After much questioning by our reporter, he admitted that he mentioned successful cases of homosexuals ‘radicating their homosexuality and reverting to heterosexuality’ at the SWD talk. He also admitted to mentioning the ‘success rate’ of 20%.
Insider Claim Treatment Useless
Last month, in a program discussing corrective therapy on the CNN, an American TV Station, parents of homosexuals claimed that corrective therapy destroyed their son(s). In recent years, organisations advocating corrective therapy has seen a serious of walk-out by their important members. In 2007, an important member of Exodus International publicly apologised to homosexuals, saying that corrective therapy is useless, and can cause mental disorder and suicide.
Dr. Ng Man Lun, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Sexual Education Association claimed that at present, there is no corrective therapy for homosexuality, neither in Western nor Chinese medicine. ‘(A corrective effect) can be achieved by brain-washing, and if the patient signed consent forms before the treatment, the doctor may not have acted against rules. But from a medical and humanitarian view point, you should not do (corrective therapy) for its harmful effects,’ said Dr. Ng.
上月美國 CNN一個討論「拗直治療」的節目中，有同志家屬便認定拗直治療毀掉兒子。近年外國一些著名鼓吹「拗直治療」的組織均有重要成員離開，其中「走出埃及國際」（ Exodus International）的要員便於 07年向同志公開道歉，指療程無效，令同志精神失常及有自殺傾向。
It is not often that the Hong Kong Government allows its prejudices to so get the better of it’s judgment that it does something stupid enough in the field of human rights for even Singapore to point the finger at. On 17 June it became clear that it just had. On that day that vanguard of campaigning liberalism, Singapore’s Straits Times, carried the headline: Hong Kong government hires ‘gay conversion expert’. How smug its staff must have been to be able to report that the Hong Kong government had hired as a trainer for its social welfare staff a prominent local psychiatrist who claimed he could ‘re-wire’ homosexuals! With glee, they characterised this as the world’s first government-sponsored training session on gay conversion therapy.
The news had only just broken in Hong Kong’s own local press. The English language daily The South China Morning Post reported that psychiatrist Hong Kwai-wah had conducted three and a half hours’ training for sixty government social welfare staff on Friday 10 June. Hong, a favourite mouthpiece for fundamentalist homophobes in Hong Kong, denied that his training mentioned ‘conversion therapy’ but had to admit to reporters that he had cited case studies to argue that gays could be treated and turned into heterosexuals.
Local LGBT groups, including Women Coalition of the Hong Kong SAR, Ten Percent Club and Rainbow of Hong Kong picketed the Lady Trench Training Centre in Wan Chai (where the two-and-a-half-hour training had taken place) on 16 June. The reports of this are assembled on the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM)’s website.
The government almost immediately found itself on the back foot, not helped by the ineptness of the junior civil servant the Social Welfare Department thrust in front of reporters to respond: “Multiple perspectives are essential for social workers to make professional and independent assessments of their cases,” the un-named unfortunate said, rather as if it were government practice that every time it dealt with a case of social abuse it should consult a witch finder to advise on the possibility that the victim was under a spell.
If all this was not enough to make Hong Kong’s senior bureaucrats squirm, the news rapidly spread worldwide. Pink News picked it up the same day in the United Kingdom, where it told its presumably bemused readers that psychiatrist Hong Kwai-wah, trainer for the government’s social welfare staff, was chairman of the New Creation Association, a body which says the wishes of gay people who want to become straight should be respected and has a website that says its aims are ‘to help people struggling with homosexuality and diffuse their inner dilemmas, rewire their mental state as well as propagate the belief that “homosexuals can change”. Treatments advocated by this organisation reportedly include cold showers, prayer and abstinence. Pink News reported that it was not known how much Hong was being paid by the tax payer for spreading his message of light.
The 56-year-old doctor, who is described on christianmentalhealth.com as a specialist in “treating unwanted homosexuality”, has defended his therapy saying: ”I did mention about the possibility to change which is an option. We need to respect the client’s choice, whether they want to remain status quo or they want to live a heterosexual life…We should not ban people from therapy if they want to change. We should respect their right.”
The peanuts Hong would have earned talking to a few social workers would, though, no doubt pale into insignificance compared with the sums the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department must be forking out in grants to his NGO’s brother organisation, the Society of Truth and Light (STL), which is the fundamentalist christian NGO that has led the fight against every improvement in LGBT human rights in Hong Kong. He is also a board member of the group. Research has discovered that this homophobic bunch has set up a hotline to ‘counsel’ homosexuals and staffed it with sponsorship from the Social Welfare Department. For those amongst you who can read Chinese, check out their link at: http://www.truth-light.org.hk/homo_hotline.
The Hong Kong government is not an overtly oppressive body. Much of what it does rests on liberal principles and honesty. Many of its members honourably seek to serve the whole public. Yet every now and then, like now, the lid is lifted on the prejudices lurking inside its departments, and out pops some form of ill-informed christianity masquerading as confucianism or as a need to conform to ‘social consensus’.
More worrying still is the way that fundamentalist Christian believers within civil service ranks seek to use their positions to further their ‘ethical’ aims. Teachers and educators circulate homophobic booklets in schools or use the parents of their pupils to petition government against LGBT rights. They hang anti-LGBT banners on their external school walls. They issue grants to the fundamentalist NGOs whose beliefs they favour. They stonewall change.
The Hong Kong government has a good deal of form here. Back in 2005, its Education Bureau quietly appointed the STL to teach human rights to secondary school teachers. On that occasion, activist Roddy Shaw led a finally successful campaign that so embarrassed the government that it did not renew the teaching contract at the end of the year. What became evident, horrifyingly, during the campaign, was that the responses made to the media by civil servants and representatives of the STL were almost word for word the same, a coincidence unlikely to have occurred without collusion. The Education Bureau, its fingers badly burned by open association with fundamentalist NGOs, has avoided any overt links ever since.
Not so the civil servants of the Social Welfare Department, who have embarked upon the same quest for international loss of face as their colleagues in the Education Bureau had done six years ago. And it will be loss of face. For there is no doubt that the more sane members of the Hong Kong government will be forced to pull back from the foolishness inflicted by their subordinates. One thing the Hong Kong government cannot stand is loss of face, and it is face that it is in the process of losing in a big way. The news of this foolishness has now gone viral. In Hong Kong, activists have started a petition which is has already garnered almost 1,000 signatures to date.
The US campaign Truth Wins Out, with its poster boy Lieutenant Dan Choi, who was recently in Moscow being arrested at their Pride Parade, has lent a hand with another petition.
Buoyed by this international support, Hong Kong activists are mobilising to take the campaign further. Exactly what is planned is becoming clearer, and is likely to involve pressure upon medical, psychiatric, psychological, social welfare and educational professional bodies to at last make firm statements distancing themselves from the snake oil peddled by the reparativists. They have so far been either too cowardly or too conservative to take a stand, but they are unlikely to be able to avoid doing so for much longer. Much the same applies to government departments, whose cries of allowing a ‘balance’ of views and permitting ‘freedom of speech’ have so far managed to privilege the teaching of faith-based untruth over scientific fact. The government of ‘Asia’s World City’ as it likes to call itself will be brought to face the fact that its functionaries are propagating mumbo jumbo worthy of darkest Africa.
One clear objective will be to prevent any more tax payers’ dollars being spent on such nonsense. The irony is that businesses with the most liberal and all-encompassing diversity policies are paying corporation tax to fund fundamentalists campaigning against the rights of their own LGBT employees. Here at least is a clear and present target that everyone in Hong Kong will understand.
So, this incident has been a nonsense and a horrifying one, but one that will have effects unintended by its perpetrators, effects that this correspondent for one is confident will ultimately benefit the rights of the LGBT community in Hong Kong. Time, it would seem, for the community to gird its loins to take advantage of the opportunity with which the idiots in government have presented it.
Related Articles on Fridae
Please sign these petitions to stop this menace. Please sign these petitions to protect your family, your friends and your relatives. Please sign these petitions to stop the government from wasting tax-payers’ money on such quacks.
If you don’t know about the details, here is the outrage in the press against HK government’s shameful appointment of ‘gay cure expert’ as adviser to the Social Welfare Department.
Truth Wins Out:
San Diego Gay and Lesbian News: http://www.sdgln.com/causes/2011/06/21/action-alert-join-dan-choi-signing-petition-stop-exgay-therapy-hong-kong
Definitely For Chan: http://voteforchan.blogspot.com/2011/06/doctor-hong-kwai-fuing-mengele.html
Singpao: 吳敏倫﹕政府機構與專家 在多元社會的責任
Gay Asian and Pacific Islander Men of New York:
Nigel’s articles on Fridae.Asia:
Windy City Media Group: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=32585
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST:
OLD ARTICLES, VIDEOS AND RADIO CHATS ON CONVERSION/REPARATIVE THERAPY IN HONG KONG
Reggie Ho’s email to the Department of Health: http://tcjm.org/2011/07/02/reggie-ho-email-to-the-department-of-health-2006/
Analysis of STL Booklet on Reparative Therapy: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/26/initial-analysis-of-the-stl-booklet-on-reparative-therapy/
The Pearl Report on YouTube:
Sex and Schools: A TVB Pearl Report
Episodes of the programme 笑容從家開始 (Laughter Starts from the Family) hosted by Ms 張 笑 容(Cheung Siu-yung) and which featured Dr. Hong Kwai-wah. These were broadcast on the dates shown, touching on the themes indicated for each:
28 January 2010 – ‘Reparative Therapy’. Click here for the transcript (and comments) in English: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/24/english-translation-of-rthk-radio-5-programme-i/
4 March 2010 – Homosexual children. Click here for the transcript (and comments) in English: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/24/hong-on-rthk-radio5-programme-ii/
27 May 2010 – Teenager sexual orientation. Click here for the transcript (and comments) in English: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/24/hong-on-rthk-radio5-programme-iii/
20 September 2010 – teenage girls’ questioning about homosexuality. Click here for the transcript (and comments) in English: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/24/hong-on-rthk-radio5-programme-iv/
21 October 2010 – distinguishing sex and gender, supposedly focussing on transgender and the Ms W case, but actually discussing homosexuality and how a family might influence children’s sexual orientation. Click here for the transcript (and comments) in English: http://tcjm.org/2011/06/24/hong-on-rthk-radio5-programme-v/
Caring Friends Response
American Psychological Association report on sexual orientation: http://www.worldsexology.org/content/world-association-sexual-health-commends-american-psychological-association-report-sexual-or