Oh, Lord. Hong Kong’s Social Welfare Department recently held the world’s first government-sponsored training session on gay conversion therapy. The workshop was led by prominent local psychiatrist Hong Kwai-wah, who specializes in “treating unwanted homosexuality,” and claims he can “re-wire” homosexuals with a mixture of cold showers, prayer, and abstinence.

Rightfully so, LGBT activists are up in arms.

“The government seems to think that homosexuals are possessed by evil spirits and needed to be ‘cleansed’ or ‘cured’ through conversion therapy,” Joseph Cho, spokesman for gay rights group Rainbow Action, told reporters during a protest outside the city’s Social Welfare Department Friday. “They are criminalizing people with same sex orientation — this is an international joke.”

Activist Dan Choi and Truth Wins Out started a petition on Change.org which has garnered over 14,500 signatures in 48 hours. You can sign it and pass it along here.

Choi says, “It is shocking that Hong Kong would risk its reputation as an international business and cultural center by hiring a therapist with such disturbing views… Hong Kong should move decisively to restore its honor and dignity by removing Hong Kwai-wah. The world is watching and taking note of this embarrassing travesty.”

Truth Wins Out’s Wayne Besen adds: “The hiring of Hong Kwai-wah is the tip of the iceberg. If we don’t take a stand now and stop the Social Welfare Department, the efforts to infiltrate Hong Kongand spread a radical, hate-filled ideology will only intensify.”

Change.org reports:

“The effort to infiltrate Hong Kong’s government and promote anti-gay ideology has been spearheaded by Canada-based Exodus Global Alliance and United States-based Exodus International… Exodus has been spreading its fundamentalist anti-gay doctrine overseas for some time — as it did in Uganda, encouraging advocates of the notorious “Kill the Gays” bill to criminalize homosexuality.”

But Hong Kong’s government says that in the past they have invited gay rights activists to speak and that they are just trying to be fair and balanced. In a statement they say that “knowledge from multiple perspectives was essential for social workers to make professional and independent assessment on their cases and to address specific needs of service users.”

Cold showers and prayer? That doesn’t sound particularly essential to us.

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