No ad woman says gays can be converted
ONE of the women who appears in the controversial 'vote no' television advertisement campaign against same-sex marriage has been calling on the Chinese-Australian community to oppose same-sex marriage for months - spreading misleading information about gay people, and even promoting conversion therapy.
Dr Pansy Lai is the second woman who appears in the Coalition for Marriage advertisement, after Cella White, who claims her son's school would permit him to wear a dress.
Ms Lai then goes on to claim that "when same-sex marriage passes as law overseas, this type of program becomes compulsory".
Ms White's claims were questioned by the principal of Frankston High School, who said such an incident never happened, while another woman, Heidi McIvor, who features in the 30-second advertisement, has also been criticised over her views.
But, Dr Lai has largely escaped the controversy, despite the fact she has been disseminating inaccurate material about gay and lesbian Australians for a number of months.
Dr Lai is the founder of the Australian Chinese for Families Association, a group which claims to "bring together the Chinese community throughout Australia who hold traditional family values" and give a voice to our collective concerns clearly and respectfully."
News.com.au has obtained emails which were sent to Australian Chinese for Families Association subscribers, in Mandarin and English, which called on Chinese-Australians to "understand the negative impacts same-sex marriage would have on our families and make an important difference in the outcome of this vote."
One newsletter sent to subscribers claimed "more and more facts are being revealed about the consequences of same-sex marriage and that cannot be covered up."
The newsletter said there is no evidence that people are born gay, and promoted treatment therapies for people who wished to change their sexual orientation as "resulting in lasting change for more than 50 per cent of people studied, with no increases in harm or distress."
Dr Lai's Australian Chinese for Families Association then claimed the reason for the success of these conversion therapies is because "we know for a fact that sexual orientation is not necessarily fixed" and "there is no proven single cause of sexual orientation."
The organisation also says, "gay identity" is a modern, western concept that began only 150 years ago - and "is therefore likely to be a social construct."
Dr Lai, who is a paediatrician based in Sydney's North Shore, started the organisation as a reaction to the Safe Schools initiative, but opposing same-sex marriage has quickly become part of the organisation's ethos.
Another newsletter sent to subscribers claims "there is no proof that legalising same-sex marriage improves physical and psychological health outcomes for the LGBTI community", and referred to countries in northern Europe that have legalised same-sex marriage and supposedly collected data on this issue.
The email then includes a table which claims men in same-sex marriage have a 40 per cent increase in mortality, and are 300 times more likely to die from aids, while women have a 70 per cent increase in mortality, and a six times higher suicide rate.
The email indicates the numbers came from website thebigdealaboutmarriage.com.au and uses these statistics to justify the claim that "more than 20 years of quality data shows extremely high mortality rate and suicide rates of men and women in same-sex marriages, compared to those in traditional marriages."
The organisation has courted criticism on its Facebook page, which has 298 followers.
"I am proudly Chinese and gay. It is so sad this so called Australian Chinese association never consider the rights of sexual minorities within their own community. There is no way that you can represent the Chinese community as whole," wrote Zhihong Liu on their page.
"Pathetic fear mongering from a 'doctor' ... I thought doctors were supposed to help people," wrote Kevin Scott.
However, supporters claim the organisation reflects the views of conservatives in the Chinese community, and encouraged the group to keep going in their efforts to oppose marriage equality.
News.com.au has contacted the Coalition for Marriage and the Australian Chinese for Families Association for comment.