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.
“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.