talk back

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 January, 2005, 12:00am

Q Should youth be entitled to unbiased advice on sexuality?

The recent 'sexual wholeness' seminar ('Wearing a dress 'a cure for lesbianism',' December 30) raises medical ethics issues which should be immediately addressed.

It is frightening to read that a psychologist and a psychiatrist hold strong faith-based views on homosexuality. Their discriminatory religious views are clearly wrong and have seriously affected their supposed professional judgment. One wonders how many other health-care professionals are influenced by religious beliefs to the extent that their treatment of patients becomes misguided and unethical.

For example, will doctors who are Christians be swayed to refer homosexuals to psychologists or psychiatrists in order to help 'cure' them? And how do doctors who are devout Catholics deal with patients who have an unplanned pregnancy or worse, have been raped? Will they willingly provide their patients with all options, including the option of abortion? And will they look down on patients who contract HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and label them sinners?

For the public's sake, I recommend all health-care professionals disclose their religious interests (if any), along with other competing interests like sponsorship from tobacco or pharmaceutical companies.

Furthermore, I urge the Hong Kong Medical Council, Hong Kong Medical Association and other health-care organisations to address this issue of keeping religious-based beliefs separate from evidence-based medical practice.

What safeguards are in place to ensure that medical professionalism is independent of religious beliefs? People should recognise that human progress and understanding depends on science-based reasoning and critical thinking, and not faith-based, wishful thinking.

Will Lai, Tsim Sha Tsui

I am very disturbed by your reports on December 29 and 30 about the seminar organised by the Society of Truth and Light and other Christian organisations.

In one article, 'Wearing a dress 'a cure for lesbianism',' you reported that one of the speakers, psychiatrist Hong Kwai-wah said: 'Conversion treatment of gay men involved them repelling intrusive thoughts, reducing masturbation, not acting on sexual impulses and increasing pursuit of holiness. For women: resolving past sexual abuse, reconciling with parents, saying goodbye to girlfriends and embracing female identity by putting on a dress, trying cosmetics and high heels.'

I was at the conference and I dare say your report was not an honest one of what Dr Hong said. He was not generalising the treatment of his patient as it seemed to be the case in your wording.

In fact, Dr Hong is not treating homosexuality per se. He said plainly that he was helping those gays and lesbians who were not satisfied with being gay. He was not 'correcting' those who find a gay or lesbian life satisfactory. His patients dislike being gay and lesbian. That's why they seek help.

You article ridicules the speakers and makes them laughable to your readers. Seldom do I find such a biased and dishonest article in a newspaper like the South China Morning Post.

In the same report, you quoted Bella Luk of Amnesty International as saying: 'Suggesting that all gay men are feminine and all lesbian women are masculine is stereotyping. Suggesting that wearing dresses, putting on makeup and putting on high heels would help change a lesbian's sexual orientation would be laughable if it weren't so dangerous. Homosexuality is not the problem - they are.'

What a misleading understanding you created by suggesting that the above conference said all gay men were feminine and all lesbian women were masculine. You misquoted Dr Hong's words and passed on this misunderstanding to Ms Luk. I agree with her words that it is stereotyping to say all gay men are feminine. But no one said that except your report.

Was the seminar homophobic? No speaker at the conference was aggressive towards gays and lesbians. I can't see how saying gays may want to change their lifestyle is offensive. To the best of my knowledge, suggesting homosexuality is bad is a religious matter, just like saying adultery is bad.

In the December 29 report, you quoted gay rights activist Roddy Shaw Kwok-wah as saying: 'The whole tone of the workshops is based on the idea that homosexuality is an illness that can be treated and converted.'

Dr Hong and psychologist Melvin Wong said clearly that homosexuality was not regarded as illness but those who were uneasy with their sexual orientation were under stress and should seek help.

The proper classification is 'gender identification disorder' or something like that. Your readers deserve better reports.

Leo Kwan, Kwai Chung

Ravina Shamdasani replies: 'The Post did not brief Amnesty International or seek its comment. Amnesty had a representative there and a spokeswoman for the group took the initiative to call the Post to complain about the seminar.

'Speakers at the seminar did not, as Mr Kwan suggests, support healthy gay relationships. It was stated more than once and by more than one speaker that homosexuality was a sin and akin to infidelity. Dr Wong spoke of healthy same-sex relationships as those of friend and teacher - for instance non-romantic and non-sexual relationships.'

On other matters ...

I refer to the letter published in Talkback on December 30 concerning the piling noise nuisance generated from a construction site on Hammer Hill Road, Diamond Hill. We have received the same complaint on December 20.

Under the Noise Control Ordinance, percussive piling conducted between 7am and 7pm on a weekday requires a construction noise permit issued by the Environmental Protection Department.

In considering such an application, the department would assess the extent of the noise impact and issue a permit allowing the percussive piling for three hours, five hours or 12 hours on each working day in accordance with the Technical Memorandum on Noise from Percussive Piling.

Since there are four schools, a clinic and a number of residential buildings in the vicinity, we issued a permit permitting only three hours for percussive piling.

Given the school hours, the permit allows percussive piling works to be carried out only between 1pm and 1.30pm, and 4.30pm and 7pm on any day that is not a general holiday.

We conducted a site inspection on December 22. We found that the works on-site complied with the conditions of the permit. Nevertheless, we advised the contractor to take measures to minimise the noise nuisance. In response, the contractor has agreed to stop piling works before 6.30pm as far as practicable.

So far, nearby schools and clinic are satisfied with the arrangement of the permitted piling hours and have made no complaint to us.

According to the contractor, the piling works are scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

Chiu Chi-chung, Environmental Protection Department