|LCQ13: Support services for homosexuals
Following is a question by Hon Wong Sing-chi and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 24):
When I met some homosexuals and ex-homosexuals recently, they relayed to me that support was often lacking when homosexuals wished to abandon their homosexual life style or change their sexual orientation. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) of the current government policy on the provision of the aforesaid support services for homosexuals; whether the policy is based on an endorsement of the view that homosexual behaviour cannot be changed, as well as the concept that the provision of such services is an act of discrimination against homosexuals; if so, of the reasons for that;
(b) whether the Government currently provides counselling services for homosexuals who wish to change their sexual orientation; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(c) whether it knows if there are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) providing such support services; if there are, of the annual number of persons receiving these services and the details of such services; if it does not know if there are such NGOs, whether it will plan to collect the relevant data; and
(d) whether it had received any complaint in the past five years about the inadequacy of such support services; if it had, of the details?
(a)&(b) The Social Welfare Department (SWD) does not have any services specifically targeting at helping homosexual individuals. Support services in Hong Kong run by both the SWD and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including those provided by clinical psychological units, integrated family service centres/integrated services centres, medical social service units and services for young people like school social work service, integrated children and youth services centres and outreaching social work service, etc. are available to all Hong Kong residents irrespective of their gender, race, sexual orientation and so on. In supporting individuals who are homosexuals, the relevant service units will provide them as well as their families with counselling, referral and other services as appropriate. If an individual with homosexual preference wishes to change his or her lifestyle or sexual orientation, the SWD and the NGOs will respect the informed choice of such an individual and render appropriate service and support.
Individual homosexuals who encounter emotional or mental health problems due to their sexual orientation may be referred by general practitioners to receive consultation services at the psychiatric departments of the Hospital Authority (HA). The psychiatrists or allied health professionals (e.g. clinical psychologists) in the HA will assess the mental health conditions of these persons and provide suitable mental health services, including psychological counselling services where necessary.
The provision of support services to those homosexuals who voluntarily seek and use them in order to convert their sexual orientation or change their way of life cannot be regarded as being discriminatory against homosexuals on the ground of their sexual orientation.
(c) The Administration is aware that a non-government subvented NGO provides such support services. According to the information available on its website, the NGO provides assistance to persons who have problems as regards their homosexuality and provide suitable assistance to those homosexuals who have decided to change their sexual orientation. Information on the annual number of persons receiving such services is not available.
(d) Since the establishment of the Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Unit in May 2005, we have not received any complaints about the inadequacy of such support services.
Ends/Wednesday, June 24, 2009