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National Gay Hotline Opens In China

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National Gay Hotline Opens In China

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

May 12, 2006 - 9:00 pm ET

(Beijing) China's first national hotline for gays and lesbians has opened with the help of a Hong Kong-based foundation.

It will provide free information and crisis intervention. Callers use an 800 number and speak to a volunteer in either Guangzhou or Shanghai

The Chi Heng Foundation says a national service is needed as more and more gay Chinese come out. Local gay phone lines have been swamped and can no longer meet the demand.

"On the mainland, being homosexual is still very hard," Hu Zhijun, a worker at the foundation, told the English language edition of the China Daily.

"Under pressure from families and society, most homosexual people dare not reveal their sexual orientation and have to get married to someone of the opposite sex."

The new service will be manned daily.

Hu said that the hotline has 13 volunteers all who are gay. They are all college educated with degrees in medicine, psychology, law or sociology and have undergone training to work on the crisis line.

"Most of the calls we have had so far are from people who complain of social stigma and ignorance, or from those who don't understand homosexual," Hu told the paper.

It is estimated there are 48 million gays in China.

Coming out is a difficult process in the closely knit family structure of the country and the government has been criticized for not doing more for gays.

It also has been criticized in the West for lagging in HIV/AIDS education The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, has warned that up to 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.

©365Gay.com 2006

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