Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-05-18
|A gay couple attending a meeting in Taiyuan, Aug. 2013. (Photo/CNS)|
More attention should be paid to the emotional well-being of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in China, as members face a tough battle against emotional issues, a non-governmental organization (NGO) report has concluded.
Out of 1,653 respondents from the LGBT community, 58.21% of teenagers and 49.03% of adults are prone to depression, higher than the national level in both categories, according to the report published by the Beijing LGBT Center on Friday.
The report was conducted via social media applications such as Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, websites and offline research, according to Xiao Tie, executive director of the center.
Of those surveyed, 60.61% expressed the wish to change negative emotions regarding their sexual orientation. Other problems highlighted include relationships, self-confidence and self-identity, the report said.
Nearly 10% of the LGBT community have considered trying "conversion therapies" to "treat" homosexuality or alter their sexual orientation. This group of people showed higher levels of depression, according to the report.
John Shen, mental health program officer with the center, said that the report emphasizes the potential for prejudices against the LGBT community.
"Despite an increasingly open society, prejudices against the LGBT community still persist in our society, which causes many to live in fear and shame because they are afraid of not being accepted," Shen said.
He said homosexuality has not been completely removed from the Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders (CCMD), which is partly why conservative attitudes still persist in the country.
Fang Gang, director of Research Institute of Gender and Sexuality at Beijing Forestry University, said that "conversion therapies" exist due to prejudices in the psychological medicine field.
Many people among the LGBT community refuse to seek psychological help as they are scared to have their privacy exposed, which is another factor that has contributed to their mental health problems, said Jiang Lan, a research fellow from the Institute of Psychology in the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
To tackle the issue, John Shen said that the government should increase efforts to completely eliminate homosexuality from the CCMD, and that Chinese society should be more inclusive to help the LGBT community become happier.
"What the community needs is understanding, respect and love, because they are all human beings like us," Shen said.