First lesbian helpline opens in China

China Daily - 23 Nov 06

China, where homosexuality is still considered taboo, has opened a hotline for lesbians offering them psychological help and support.

The free hotline launched in Shanghai this week is staffed by trained counsellors who are also lesbians, Xinhua news agency reported.

"We hire lesbians to operate the hotline because they have a better understanding of their pressures and stresses," said Chung To, the head of Hong Kong-based Chi Heng foundation, which sponsors the hotline.

Many lesbians in China end up marrying men under social pressure, the report said.

China has no official statistics on homosexuality but according to the latest available estimate from the health ministry, there were five to 10 million gay men in the country. Some experts put the number at at least 30 million.

Homosexuality was once considered a mental illness in China and a social taboo linked to loose morality.

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