Date: Thu, 12 Dec 1996 19:11:50 +0800 This message is from the HKQueer mailing list. If you wish to unsubscribe, send the message UNSUBSCRIBE HKQUEER to email@example.com - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Press Release: 1996 Chinese Tongzhi Conference
About 200 Chinese Tongzhi Gathered in Hong Kong: Tong-zhi Movement Should be Cultural Specific for Chinese Societies
(1999.12.9) About 200 Chinese tongzhi (lesbians bisexuals, gays and all transgendered people) from different regions gathered in Hong Kong and participated in the "1996 Chinese Tongzhi Conference" organised by The lsvara of Hong Kong from December 6 to 8,1996. Participants included representatives from Horizons, Hong Kong Ten Percent Club, Lui Tung Yuen, XX Party, Satsanga, Art and Culture Club, Bless Minority Christian Fellowship, Worldson Books and other local tongzhi organisations in Hong Kong. Wu Chunsheng from mainland China, James An, Hsu You-sheng and Jerry Lai from Taiwan, and Stanley Kwan Jimmy Ngai, Samshasha, Roddy Shaw, John Loo and Julian Chan of Hong Kong also attended
The Conference discussed a number of tongzhi-related issues, including tongzhi culture and arts, social services for tongzhi, Aids issues, bisexuality, and lesbian politics. There was an extensive discussion regarding the specificity of the cultural context and needs of Chinese tongzhi. Participants concluded that it is unnecessary to copy the model of les-bi-gay liberation movement in the Anglo-Saxon societies, which is characterised by individualism and confrontational politics and agreed that Chinese tongzhi movement should be cultural-specific.
Manifesto of Chinese Tongzhi Conference
1. Same Sex Love Always Exists
Same sex Love has been existing in all cultures since ancient times. Scholars find that many cultures take a tolerant attitude towards homosexuality and bisexuality. In addition, sexual behaviour among members of the same sex has been observed in animals. The authoritative Kinsey Report reveals that of the nearly ten thousand adults being interviewed, approximately 10% was classified as homosexuals.
2. Same Sex Love is Being Discriminated Against
Regardless of the number of homosexuals and bisexuals in the world, the issue is whether this group of people is being discriminated against by the mainstream society. The contemporary society remains heterosexist. The mainstream sexual discourses in mass media, education system and legal structure is predicated upon a reproductive, monogamous social structure. The les-bi-gay world is often being viewed in a voyeuristic, derogatory way. This causes many tongzhi to feel ashamed and guilty. Many tongzhi have to disguise as a "normal" heterosexual in the public and lead a secretive double life, which has caused destructive psychological damages to their personal development.
3. Tradition Chinese Society was Tolerant Towards Same Sex Love
Many people mistakenly criticise Chinese culture as sexually repressive and conservative. Some even think that homosexuality is a corrupt import front the West. In fact, traditional Chinese culture was tolerant towards same sex love. Mencius says, "The joy of eating and sex are natural human desires", both of which have no association with sin or guilt. Buddhist, a religion which has been well assimilated into the Chinese culture for 2,000 years, neither advocates heterosexuality nor denounces homosexuality, and emphasises the notion of bodichitta, which means that all beings have the potential to become Buddha. The vast documentation also reveals the high level of social tolerance towards same sex love in pre-modern China. 4. The Hostility and Violence Against Homosexuality is not Found in Traditional Chinese Culture
Hostility and violence, such as harsh legal punishment, bashing and lynching' against same sex love in pre-modern China cannot be found in historical records. For instance, the introduction of sodomy law in Hong Kong in 1865, which could sentence two consenting male adults to life imprisonment, was the result of British colonial rule. What was brought from the West to China was not same sex love, but the sin associated with it in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, which signiticamly contributed to the homophobia found in modern Chinese societies.
5. Increased Exchanges Among Tongzhi in Chinese Societies is Beneficial
In recent years, there has been encouraging development in the tongzhi communities of mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Cultural exchanges among tongzhi in different Chinese societies can help tongzhi to reclaim self esteem and to develop a healthy personality. Moreover, the accurate representation and positive visibility of the tongzhi community can correct misunderstandings of the mainstream society.
6. Confrontational Politics in the West Should Not be Imposed Upon Chinese Societies
The les-bi-gay movement in many Western societies is largely built upon the notion of individualism, confrontational politics, and the discourse of individual rights. Certain - characteristics of confrontational politics, such as through coming out and mass protests and parades may not be the best way of achieving tongzhi liberation in the family-centred, community oriented Chinese societies which stresses the importance of social harmony. In formulating the tongzhi movement strategy, we should take the specific socio-economic and cultural environment of each society into consideration.
7. We Should Respect Each Other Regardless of Sexual Orientation
We are a group of Chinese tongzhi unashamed and proud of who we are. While we do not deny our sexual orientation, we do not advertise the sexual aspect of our life. If the society can deal with this issue without prejudice, everyone, tongzhi or otherwise, need not highlight her or his sexuality. People should respect each other as an individual regardless of sexual orientation and other social differences. With this goal in mind, together we can build a better society.
(For the concise wording of the manifesto, please refer to the original Chinese version.) Separately, in association with the Chinese Tongzhi Conference Greenfield Bookstore in Mongkok Telephone: 852-2385-8031 is hosting a book fair from December 6th to 24th, exhibiting over 30 Chinese tongzhi books. For further information, please contact Julian Chan at 852-2388-7874. Julian, founder and chairperson of lsvara, is the organizer of the 1996 Chinese Tongzhi Conference.
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