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Gay groups blast Govt survey as prejudiced

in CHINA, 29/06/2005

Even China accepts there is no psychological basis, and homosexual is not a crime in Hong Kong. Is the government planning to repeal its own 1991 decriminalisation?

A Home Affairs Bureau survey to measure Hong Kong's attitudes towards homosexuality has been slammed as insulting and prejudiced after a draft of the questions was released for public comment. Statements on which respondents are required to comment include "homosexuality is a psychological disorder", and "homosexuality should be regarded as a criminal act."

Industry professionals also criticised the questionnaire for "lacking credibility".

"This has to be a joke," said Paul Louey Chi-ming, a social worker with the NGO Aids Concern. He represents the group on the government's Sexual Minorities Forum, which will convene this afternoon to address the questionnaire.

Mr Louey said the contentious statements are "misleading in the extreme".

"Even China accepts there is no psychological basis, and homosexual is not a crime in Hong Kong. Is the government planning to repeal its own 1991 decriminalisation?" he said.

Drafts in English and Chinese were circulated late last week to members of the Sexual Minorities Forum. The group comprises representatives from gay and lesbian groups, the Equal Opportunities Commission, Amnesty International and Aids Concern.

The Home Affairs Bureau declined to comment on criticism of the draft. "A three-member advisory group was appointed to ensure fairness and impartiality of the questionnaire," an official said. "Anybody who has a comment can reflect it to the advisory group."

The government was sensitive to criticism that a 1995 survey had been leading and biased. So this time, the questions were vetted by the advisory group: solicitor Christopher Chan Yiu-chong, former Equal Opportunity Commission chairwoman Fanny Cheung Mui-ching - now professor of psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong - and Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, associate dean of the school of law at City University.

The survey was compiled by the government's contract market research agency, MVA Hong Kong, acting under guidance from the advisory group.

Angry gay groups met on Wednesday night to prepare their formal response to the draft. Many were upset that the survey focuses only on homosexuals, although it was supposed to be about sexual orientation in general.

"I'm very frustrated and very disappointed. The past six months have just been a waste of everyone's time," said Chung To, of the Chi Heng Foundation, an Aids advocacy group.

Roddy Shaw Kwok-wah, of Civil Rights for Sexual Diversities, said: "Putting aside the questions themselves, which are leading and prejudiced, this is not even a proper survey, and is a waste of time."

The managing director of a market research company said: "This survey fails on every level, and any findings would be open to legitimate challenge on the grounds of methodology alone. It lacks credibility and runs the risk of giving a distorted picture of public opinion."

The Home Affairs Bureau first mooted a survey to measure public attitudes towards homosexuality in July last year.

They said it was a necessary step before the bureau could consider a sexual-orientation discrimination ordinance.

Following strenuous lobbying by groups including fundamentalist Christians and the Society for Truth and Light, the Home Affairs Bureau postponed the survey and referred its drafting to the advisory group.

TIM CRIBB
South China Morning Post
June 24, 2005
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