GAPIMNY Stages a “Shower-in” to protest against “ex-gay” conversion programs

On Sunday, August 7th GAPIMNY alongside Q-WAVE and the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission staged a “shower-in” in front of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in NYC to protest against the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department’s legitimization of so-called “ex-gay” conversion programs.  We first heard about the issue when Dan Choi started a Change.org petition protesting the decision by the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department to host an “ex-gay” conversion workshop for its social workers.  The doctor who was hired to do the workshop, Hong Kwai-wah, has connections with Exodus Global Alliance, a discredited group whose work is rejected by every major medical and mental health organization. As the “ex-gay” message fails in America, Exodus is looking to exploit new markets and export hate overseas

Many of our community members have connections to Hong Kong and so we decided to take the ball that Dan Choi started rolling and take it further and highlight the absurdity of “ex-gay” conversion programs, particularly the part of the program that the workshop stressed could “cure” homosexuality – cold showers.

So, we hosted a public shower-in in front of the Hong Kong Economic & Trade Office in NYC and showed that you really can’t scrub away the gay no matter how hard you try.

Then, we demanded that the Hong Kong government honor the demands of LGBT activists in Hong Kong who have been speaking out against these programs and we demanded an end to the export of these programs by the Religious Right to our countries of origin.

See our press release here.

Coverage:  Colorlines Magazine, Bilerico Project, GLAAD Blog, Joe.My.God, The Most CakeSing Tao, World Journal, South China Morning Post.

See official photos of the protest.  Some of our favorites below.

Available statements:

Activist Dan Choi“The showers will demonstrate scientifically that we cannot wash away the gay, but through simple and enduring proclamations of integrity, the only thing washed away is the filthy and arrogant bigotry of church-invented and state-sponsored discrimination.”

GAPIMNY “Today, we stand in solidarity with our queer brethren in Hong Kong. It is unfortunate that in a time in which LGBT rights and issues are starting to gain momentum, there are those who feel the need to deny our intrinsic identity and lock it away. These so-called “ex-gay” conversion programs have  been disproven by medical and psychological organizations, yet religious fundamentalist groups still hold on to the belief that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals can be “cured.” Perhaps we should hold a mirror for them for it is they who need to be cured of their ignorance, bigotry, and strife-mongering.

As we hold and participate in this shower-in, let us keep in mind that policies regarding LGBT rights and issues affect not only our immediate community but far-reaching populations in many different areas. Let’s stop the export of hate and prejudice. Instead, let us build communities and strengthen solidarity.

Read more statements:

IGLHRC – “The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission stands in solidarity with our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender colleagues and their communities in Hong Kong. We challenge the government of Hong Kong to re-examine its policy of advocating conversion therapy for gay people. The Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong has violated its position of trust in the community by spreading homophobia in the name of culture and religion and by aligning with a psychiatrist who associates homosexuality with demonic possession. This Social Welfare Department is funding and promoting an unscientific, unethical and harmful practice of conversion therapy that has been discredited by medical and mental health experts and in fact shown to damage the mental health of individuals who are subjected to this therapy. The Hong Kong government is obligated under international human rights laws to protect all people and prohibit and eliminate discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission demands that the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department immediately issue a public apology to LGBT people of Hong Kong and undertake an awareness raising campaign to dispel the dangerous myths that feed prejudice and hate against the LGBT members of Hong Kong society.

Rainbow Action (Hong Kong-based) – “Rainbow Action of Hong Kong, the group that protested in the training centre of the Department of Social Welfare, HKSAR, on 17th June 2011, welcomes and fully supports the of GAPIMNY and Q-WAVE in New York.

The Department’s appointment of the notoriously known conversion therapist, Dr. Hong Kwai-wah in a workshop for social workers is not only a shame to the image of Hong Kong as an Asian World City, but also legitimizes and reinforces prejudices and discrimination against LBGT people by endorsing a pathologizing undertone.

Your demonstration in New York shows the solidarity across the globe in resisting the rise of Christian Rights and its worrying extension in the Asian cities.

We strongly oppose the Department’s excuse that the appointment was made to ensure the principle of balance of views. Conversion therapy is blatantly a pseudo-science and does harm to LBGT people, which, at any rate, is never a valid view that needs to be balanced.

Rainbow Action of Hong Kong will continue working with progressive LBGT groups, here and abroad, to monitor and make every effort to curb the growth of conversion therapy  and Christian Rights in Hong Kong.”

Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (Hong Kong-based) – The Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting (TCJM), an alliance of LGBT activists in Hong Kong, sends its greetings to GAPIMNY, Q-WAVE and IGLHRC in New York and its warm thanks for your taking up our cause.  You are right that our struggle has no borders!

Your demonstration in New York willl show the Hong Kong Government that its actions have repercussions not just here but across the world and will help shame it into adopting policies acceptable to its LGBT citizens.

We will continue to work until the Hong Kong Government acknowledges that the faith-based ‘therapies’ advocated by groups such as Exodus and its Hong Kong disciple, New Creation Association, are unfit for any of its departments or agencies to adopt, and until it ceases to appoint advocates of such therapies in any capacity.

Our groups are meeting the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department on 23 August, and your demonstration in New York is timely. We will use your action as an example of what Hong Kong’s Government may expect to face in future, and what effect this will have on its reputation as ‘Asia’s World City’, if it does not change its policies.

Thank you for your support. We are greatly heartened by your action!”