Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association under fire over sexuality counselling

Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association attacked for service helping young gay people

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 4:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2014, 8:21am

The Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association has been dragged into a row over gay rights amid accusations it is "siding with sexual minorities" and "brainwashing" children by offering counselling to young people struggling with their sexuality.

The association, which has worked with the city's children since 1936, launched the counselling for young people and their parents in 2007.

But that service, and the association's plan to take part in a pro-gay-rights event next month, was slammed by the Justice Alliance, a conservative group led by Beijing loyalist and parent-activist Leticia Lee See-yin.

"We question why they would show blatant support to sexual minorities rights groups," said Lee, adding that she had sought talks with the association and the Family Planning Association - which she says publishes booklets advocating same-sex marriage. "They are [saying] being gay is fine. It's not fair to brainwash impressionable children."

She also accused the two bodies of not being transparent in their use of government funds.

Chinese University Professor Carmen Chan also condemned the association for providing "outdated, ungrounded, unsafe and incomplete information" by saying that people are born gay.

The comments come against a backdrop of tension over the rights of gay and transexual people since a landmark court ruling last year that paved the way for a transgender woman to marry her male partner. The dispute was stoked by a pro-family march by Evangelical Christian groups under the slogan "one husband, one wife; one man, one woman; one life, one love" - which backers denied was homophobic.

Brian Leung, convenor of rights group the Big Love Alliance, accused Lee of "instigating hatred and discrimination" and "playing up fear of the unknown".

"We are talking about a reputable, long-standing NGO, who have been caring for the underprivileged and minorities for years," he said. "The counselling they provide … is one of a kind."

A spokeswoman for the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association said the counselling was funded independently of government cash the body receives. Its support for next month's Pink Dot event to promote diversity did not involve any money, she added.

The Family Planning Association offered no comment.