It is a great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to the Hong Kong International LGBT+ Affirmative Practices Conference (ILAPC) 2023 on behalf of Society of True Light. The conference will be held on 2-3 June 2023.
Based on the latest statistics from the Equal Opportunity Commission (2017), it is estimated that approximately 400,000 individuals in Hong Kong may identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, findings from the Youth Sexuality Study 2021, published by The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, revealed that 40.7% of secondary school girls and 29.4% of secondary school boys do not identify as heterosexual. Living in a society that is entrenched in heteronormative values, LGBTQ+ individuals are constantly experiencing different degrees of stress ranging from family non-acceptance to structural discrimination, which inevitably expose them to a much greater risk of developing mental health issues. As an example of how LGBTQ+ individuals cope with these minority stressors, our recent study last year revealed that 1 out of 5 homosexual individuals attempted sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), varying from self-abstinence to obtaining conversion therapy, yet unsuccessful attempts and worsened mental state were the only outcomes.
The diversity in sexuality means that each identity has its own unique needs, and it is vital that mental health professionals provide support tailored to those individual needs. A lack of specialized training on handling LGBT+ cases or a lack of sensitivity to sexuality/gender issues may then inflict further harm upon clients. Despite bans on the provision of assistance in SOCE in many countries, it is still being practiced in Hong Kong. Strikingly, more than 30% of the aforementioned SOCE attempts were recommended by counsellors, highlighting the urgent need to equip frontline workers with adequate training in handling clients struggling with sexuality and gender issues.
ILAPC2023, the first-of-its-kind conference on LGBT+ affirmative practices in Hong Kong, aims to share good clinical practices among local mental health practitioners. The conference will offer an exclusive networking and knowledge sharing experience through presentations, panel discussion, and clinical practice sharing sessions with leading international and local experts around the main themes, as well as local NGO engagement. Additionally, a human library will be organized for participants to have an interactive experience with members from the LGBT+ community.
We cordially invite you to join us in exploring and advancing LGBT+ affirmative practices in Hong Kong, as well as engaging in lifelong learning through enlightening sharing and discussions. We look forward to welcoming you in June 2023.
Mr. Dino Wong
President & Founder, Society of True Light
Dr. Jensen Yiu
Vice-President, Society of True Light