Hong Kong Doc Defends Gay ’Conversion’ Class
A Hong Kong doctor defended his "ex gay" regimen after GLBT equality activists decried the program, an AFP article posted at MSNBC reported on June 19.
The doctor, Hong Kwai-wah, a Hong Kong psychiatrist, gave over 60 government employees from the social services agency a training session lasting three and a half hours on the subject of "treating unwanted homosexuality," the AFP article reported.
The training session was decried by equality advocates as an attempt by the government to impose so-called "conversion therapy" on GLBT youths, the article said.
Dr. Hong, however, demurred, saying that his program was not an attempt at "reparative therapy," a religiously based type of treatment that attempts to "cure" gays through prayer and will power.
"The main point is not about gay conversion therapy," Hong told the press. "The main point is how to pay attention and give guidance to same-sex attracted youths and their parents, to understand their struggle and their needs."
While Hong says that his approach avoids the elements common to "reparative therapy," he does believe that gays can be "cured" -- that is to say, their innate sexual and romantic attraction toward members of the same gender can be re-focused on members of the opposite sex.
Such claims are regarded with skepticism by mainstream mental health professionals, who warn that attempts to "cure" gays can lead to patients who are cast into painful bouts of shame and confusion when their feelings of desire for members of the same gender to do evaporate, and when they fail to develop romantic or sexual feelings for people of the opposite gender.
There is some evidence to suggest that some people can set aside feelings of sexual attraction for those of the same gender, but what is unclear is whether such people are actually gay to begin with. Young people often experiment with same-sex relationships, for example, and then move on to heterosexuality on their own as they mature.
Others may be bisexual and choose to ignore or suppress their urges for romantic attachment for same-gender people.
However, many so-called "ex-gays" say that they "struggle" with sexual desire for members of the same gender on a daily basis. Others say that they have succeeded in eradicating their same-sex desires -- but never developed attraction for the opposite sex, leaving them with little or no conscious sexual desire at all, in a state of self-imposed asexuality.
One famously ex-gay former leader in the GLBT equality movement, Michael Glatze, was profiled recently in the New York Times. Glatze, who started a magazine for gay youth, declared himself heterosexual after a health crisis. Now 36, Glatze is a Bible school student and remains single.
Dr. Hong, however, is convinced that gays who wish to "convert" to heterosexuality can do it, and says that heterosexuality is an "option" that gays can pursue.
Anti-gay groups in America and elsewhere make similar claims, arguing that laws bolstering legal and social equality for gays do not protect a legitimate class of minorities, but rather give undeserved credence to practitioners of an "immoral lifestyle" who have "chosen" their sexual orientation.
"I did mention about the possibility to change which is an option" in the training, Hong told the media. "We need to respect the client’s choice, whether they want to remain status quo or they want to live a heterosexual life," he added.
Hong helped to found a group called the New Creation Association which, in text posted at the group’s website, pathologizes gays and transgenders, claiming to assist GLBTs who want to "restore their sexual wholeness and appreciate their gender identity given by God."