Hong Kong Has A Conversion Therapy Problem

To date, 12 US states have banned conversion therapy for minors. As we celebrate when a new state bans the practice, we also have to remember that it’s still fully legal in many other countries.

One territory that’s had many problems concerning LGBTQ people, and specifically gay men, of late is Hong Kong. Primarily, Hong Kong is having a growing problem with conversion therapy.

Christianity is one of the main religions in Hong Kong. There are about 480,000 Protestant Christians and 379,000 Catholics in the city. Yet, it seems that conversion therapy is becoming more prevalent in the Asian territory.

As the Thomas Reuters Foundation reports:

“Stop watching porn, look ‘macho’ and avoid spending time alone with other boys - this was the advice Alvin Cheung in Hong Kong received after reaching out for help when he realized he was gay.”

“He began going to regular counseling and prayer sessions, during which he was told he could become straight.”

“Soon he was struggling to sleep, he lost weight and had trouble focusing on his final year of undergraduate study. Doctors diagnosed him with depression.”

“‘It made me feel guilty all the time. I felt ashamed and blamed myself for being different to other people,’ Cheung said. ‘I wanted to commit suicide.’”

Scientists and researchers have yet to be able to prove that conversion therapy works. Instead, they’ve been able to prove that it’s damaging.

“It is hugely damaging for the mental health of LGBT individuals,” said tycoon heiress Gigi Chao. After coming out, Chao’s father offered a $65 million reward to whatever man could get his daughter to marry.

All of these negative attitudes towards them has led many LGBTQ people to leave Hong Kong for other countries such as New Zealand.

“A lot of my close friends who I grew up with, for example - gays or trans - they have chosen not to come back to Hong Kong,” Chao said. “They have chosen not to be part of this homophobic culture.”

As for the LGBTQ people who stay, there’s now a steady rise in HIV rates and chemsex happening in Hong Kong.

With problems like depression, stds, and drug use taking over LGBTQ people, conservative citizens and government officials need to stop trying to force extra pressure onto them. Instead, special attention should be turned towards helping them find safety and health in the city.

Otherwise, they may turn to other locations.

h/t: Reuters

Check Out The First Pictures From Joel Edgerton's Conversion Therapy Film "Boy Erased"

Focus Features has released the first images from the upcoming film Boy Erased.

The film based on a memoir by Garrad Conley follows his childhood experience of going through a conversion therapy program after being outed to his parents.

The film is directed by, written by, and stars Joel Edgerton (as a preist). On top of that, the film is also staring Manchester by the Sea and Lady Bird star Lucas Hedges, Canadian actor-filmmaker Xavier Dolan, Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Troye Sivan, and more.

This film will be Edgerton’s second feature film as director after his 2015 horror film The Gift.

“The film satisfies the dramatic and salacious stuff that interested me, but it also had an emotional resonance to it that I felt didn’t just make it a dark and nihilistic story,” Edgerton told Entertainment Weekly. “Garrard’s story is so full of redemption.” 

The film could also be in the cross hairs of awards season due to its dramatic focus on conversion therapy and its September release date. We’ll see if that becomes true.

In the meantime, check out the first stills from the upcoming film down below.

California To Ban Conversion Therapy Entirely And New Hampshire To Ban It For Minors

Brian Sims, who recently had his own triumph over a homophobic Congressman, isn’t the only openly gay politician we want to praise. Evan Low is a democratic state assemblyman from California who’s also working hard for LGBTQ rights.

The state of California is currently in a push to tighten its laws against conversation therapy. The state already has a law banning conversion therapy on minors, and now a complete ban on the practice is well on its way.

At the head of the charge is CA Assemblyman Evan Low, who’s openly gay himself.

“This notion that we would accept as a legal practice that conversion therapy works is antithetical to my very existence in this body,” Low said.

But, of course, there is opposition to the new bill. Conservatives against the bill say that it could end up banning books and religious freedom. That said, it seems conversion therapy is a religious freedom, and not a scientific practice, only when its convenient for conservatives. So, Low and co. are pressing forward.

“You can still try to pray the gay away if you’d like, but it hasn’t proved to be effective,” said Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D). “To advertise that you can change someone’s orientation is simply that — fraudulent.”

But it looks like California isn’t the only state working towards banning conversion therapy.

According to Metro Weekly, New Hampshire’s state senate just voted 14-10 for a ban on conversion therapy for minors.

“This practice is a backward, barbaric practice aimed to scare the gay away,” said Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) during the pre-vote debate. “We need to call it what it is.”

That said, the bill wasn’t passed without a compromise. Conservatives allowed the state bill to pass only after it was amended to allow “talk therapy or religious counseling that provides acceptance, support, and understanding.”

“What we’re trying to prevent is when an individual or counselor would really push somebody against their will by imposing a viewpoint,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) argued.

That said, the bill has been passed by the state senate and a different anti-conversion therapy bill has been passed in the state house of representatives. Once the two bills are combined and their differences are reconciled, a single bill will be sent to Governor Chis Sununu (R), who supports the bill.

Milwaukee Became The First Wisconsin City To Ban "Ex-Gay Therapy"

Milwaukee has banned forced conversion therapy on minors.

On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council passed an ordinance that bans ex-gay therapy on LGBTQ youth. This makes Milwaukee the first municipality in the state of Wisconsin to enact a bill of this sort.

The law was sponsored by Alderman Chevalier Johnson who said during the Tuesday meeting that the practice is harmful to children.

"Kids end up committing suicide because of the practice of conversion therapy being inflicted upon them," he said. "This is about protecting kids."

Not everyone agreed with Johnson however, as the regulation had two votes against it. Luckily, they were outnumbered by twelve other votes.

Despite some pushback, many people and organizations are applauding the Milwaukee Common Council. One of which was the Human Rights Campaign, which said:

"No child should be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy, which has been rejected by every major medical and mental health organization," HRC Wisconsin State Manager Wendy Strout said in a statement. "We thank the Milwaukee Common Council and the team at the Milwaukee LGBT Center for putting the well-being and safety of our children first, and hope their leadership can be an example to cities across the state."

While Milwaukee is just the first municipality in the state of Wisconsin to ban conversion therapy, many other municipalities across the country have done the same.

In addition, 11 states, Connecticut, Washington, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, and New Mexico, have all-out banned the practice too.

h/t: Chicago Pride

An Irish Politician Introduced A Bill Against Conversion Therapy

An Irish politician has introduced a bill that would ban conversion therapies from the European country.

Fintan Warfield is the lawmaker in question. The senator from the Sinn Fein political party introduced the bill last Wednesday in hopes of ridding his country of the “deceptive and harmful act or practice against a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and, or gender expression.”

If the bill were to be passed, anyone who is found guilty of trying to conduct conversion therapy on anyone else would owe 10,000 euros (about $12,351) and could possibly go to prison for up to a year.

Evelyne Paradis, the executive director of ILGA’s Europe division, spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the topic.

Paradis shared that conversion therapy can have a “negative impact on people’s mental health, as they can lead to lower self-esteem, depression and suicidal ideation.”

“Legislation sends out a powerful message that stigma masquerading as ‘therapy’ will not be tolerated by modern societies ... and we encourage Irish parliamentarians to quickly pick up this really important issue,” she added.

As for Ireland, LGBTQ issues and rights are still something in flux in the country. But, they are gaining more of a spotlight thanks to the new prime Minster Leo Varadkar (who’s the first openly gay prime minister the country has had).

In addition, Ireland was the first country to legalize marriage equality through a popular ballot in 2015. Same-sex marriage came into the country thanks to 63% of the public’s approval. Now, conversion therapy will hopefully be on its way out.

h/t: the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Washington State Passed A Bill Banning Conversion Therapy On Minors

Washington State has passed a bill banning health-care providers from trying to forcibly change someone’s sexual orientation.

This past Saturday (March 3), the State Senate passed a 33-16 vote that would put restrictions on licensed therapists looking to conduct on minors.

Senate Bill 5722, which had its first reading back in February of 2017, makes it so that professionals cannot conduct gay conversion therapy on anyone under 18 as its now legally considered “unprofessional conduct.”

If licensed therapists or health-care providers break this new bill, they will risk facing suspension or the revoking of their licenses, according to King 5 News.

In addition, the House later amended the bill by including non-licensed counselors or anyone conducting the therapy for religious groups.

While the bill has not officially become law yet, most are expecting Gov. Jay Inslee (D) to sign it into law without issue.

This will make Washington the tenth U.S. State to outlaw the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors.

Meanwhile, LGBTQ activists are celebrating the news.

“Children across the Evergreen State deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof to Pink News.

“It’s time for Washington to join the growing number of states and municipalities who are enacting these critical protections. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth from this dangerous practice and now call on Governor Inslee to sign this crucially important legislation.”

Love & Hip Hop's Jonathan Fernandez Shares He Went To A Conversion Camp At 10

Reality TV star Jonathan Fernandez opened up about the time his family sent him to a conversation therapy camp when he was only 10-years-old.

33-year-old Fernandez is known of his time on the VH1 reality show K.Michelle and for currently appearing on Love & Hip Hop.

But now, Fernandez's name is circulating around the internet after he recorded the following video with the help of Brut.

In the video, Fernandez tries to see the situation through his family’s eyes and minds. He says that his parents loves him, but that they didn’t understand him.

Fernandez also gives accounts of situations at the camp such as being hooked up to a lie detector machine and shocked whenever he gave an unsatisfactory response, or receiving testosterone injections.

You can watch the video down below to hear Jonathan Fernandez’s story for yourself.