PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 January, 2010, 12:00am

Failing to appreciate fundamental character of sexual orientation

I refer to Gordon Truscott's letter ('Sexual orientation is not set in stone,' January 10) about the 'homosexual condition' as it relates to the membership by-laws of the Hong Kong Country Club.

Mr Truscott is identified as the chairman of Caring Friends 'which provides information about homosexuality to the public'.

Unfortunately he fails to appreciate the fundamental character of sexual orientation.

A homosexual man or woman may have sex with and even marry a person of a different gender but this does not make them heterosexual. This does not negate same-sex attraction.

For many, being honest and expressive about one's sexuality in a non-accepting society seems too daunting a prospect.

Caring Friends, according to its mission statement, 'works to prevent developmental homosexuality'.

On its website, Caring Friends writes that 'people get damaged or neglected into homosexuality', often from a lack of parental care.

If this is true, homosexuals have thus decided to make life even more difficult for themselves by joining the ranks of an often stigmatised social group that in almost all countries suffers from a lack of equal legal rights and protections.

More likely, sexual orientation is determined by a perhaps unknowable interaction of biological and environmental factors. Caring Friends' claim to know what causes homosexuality and thus how to prevent it is insupportable, given the wide-ranging geographic, genetic, childhood, and socioeconomic life histories of gay people.

Caring Friends 'can arrange for counselling in Hong Kong for homosexual males wanting help to leave homosexuality', a process that is popularly known as 'ex-gay' or 'conversion' therapy.

The American Psychological Association has rejected the use of such therapies. According to the APA, sexual orientation is not a choice, nor can therapy change sexual orientation.

On the other hand, moralistic bullying, fuelled by organisations such as Caring Friends, can fill homosexual individuals with such self-hatred that they attempt to lead heterosexual lives, leaving them sexually and emotionally unfulfilled.

The controversy over the proposed changes to the Country Club's by-laws relates to same-sex partnerships that are just as stable, nurturing, and loving as long-term different-sex relationships.

The club proposes to extend to non-legally married life partners similar membership benefits as those already given to legally married spouses of members. The 'preferred option', according to the club, would be to exclude same-sex partners from this new arrangement.

What else but simple bigotry could explain this preferential treatment?

Karsten Ch'ien, Mong Kok

Same-sex marriage undermines the family

I wish to express my disappointment with Portugal's parliament for passing a bill allowing gay marriage. At the same time I commend New Jersey's state Senate in the US for defeating a bill that would have legalised same-sex marriage.

Marriage is an institution that predates civilisation, ordained by God, and exclusive to one man and one woman who are given the responsibility to procreate the human race and to nurture, educate and pass on shared values and mores to their offspring.

To redefine marriage to include same-sex couples is to strip marriage of an essential component, namely the ability and obligation to procreate.

This would render marriage meaningless.

Every credible study supports the fact that children do better in school, live healthier lives and become better contributors to society when raised by a mother and a father in the same household.

Paul Kokoski, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

By-election is not a referendum

A referendum has been defined as the submission of an issue of public importance to the direct vote of an electorate. The proposed resignation of legislators in five districts and their call for re-election of candidates of the same parties cannot be called a referendum because the electorates are limited only to residents of five districts, not all electorates in Hong Kong.

This is nothing but a political gimmick and my own prediction is that they will lose most, if not all of their seats.

T. W. Wong, Sha Tin

Flat fare on buses is unfair to passengers

I study at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and I am concerned about skyrocketing public transport fares.

I do not have a car so I have to use public transport every day to get to the university from my home in Chai Wan. The bus is the most convenient way of getting there. However, no matter where I board I will be charged a flat fare of HK$8.90. In other words, it does not matter whether you get on at Chai Wan or Tin Hau, just one stop from PolyU. This is a ridiculous state of affairs.

In Singapore and Korea, commuters are charged depending on the distance they have travelled, using their smart cards when they alight. The same system applies on the MTR, and indeed on some bus routes, so there are no technical problems. Bus companies need to install an Octopus machine near the exit, which would be locked until the next stop. In this way passengers can be charged according to the distance they have travelled. This system operates in Singapore. I hope legislators can look at this problem and deal with it in a bipartisan way.

Eric Lam, Chai Wan

We must work together

I accept that Shanghai's Disneyland will pose a threat to Hong Kong and the government should find ways to deal with this problem.

The government should encourage the creation of more tourist spots.

We need to attract more visitors to come to our buildings which are of historical importance. Many people are more interested in looking round older buildings. We all have a duty to support our city and I would like to see a more united front on the part of Hongkongers.

So often I hear citizens saying that we have to accept we will lose out to increased competition from the mainland. We should not be so negative.

If we work together and support our city, I believe it can remain competitive.

Jonathan Mak Ka-long, Sha Tin

Too much pressure

I refer to the report ('Broken hearts and pressure of schoolwork behind child suicide cases, study shows', January 13) and agree with the findings of this study.

Nowadays, Hong Kong children are under so much pressure from teachers and parents and some of them become confused.

There are many examples of children contemplating suicide in Hong Kong and this problem is getting worse.

The Hong Kong education system is fiercely competitive. However, parents should try not to put their children under so much pressure. Students should also learn how to cope better, by trying to stay upbeat and making sure they take time to relax.

Coco Fan Wing-sum, Tsuen Wan