HONG KONG: Pride flags flowed through the streets of Hong Kong Saturday (Nov 25) along with the theme of blue, Blue representing the sea and sky as a symbol of freedom, during the city’s annual pride parade, as activist and campaigners for LGBT equality and diversity critique the government for not doing enough.
2017 was a great year for Hong Kong with the outstanding news that Hong Kong was picked as the first Asian city to host the Gay Games in Paris, with great celebrations as a new dawn for Asian equality and for China, while a landmark court decision granted a British lesbian the right to live and work in Hong Kong with her partner although the decision is currently under appeal it marked a changing light in the country.
But authorities’ reaction reported by HKFP to the winning bid for the 2022 Gay Games was ‘lukewarm’ although stating ‘Hong Kong was still divided on the issue of same-sex marriage and went on to cite her Catholic faith’ with an audible grumble from others discontent at the time the announcement.
Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, a spokesman for the parade’s organizers, said he was disappointed that Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen did not accept their invitation to attend the event SCMP Reports.
Hong Kong has made large strides in LGBT rights in recent years, including movement on anti-discrimination legislation. However, Hong Kong law stands by the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman and rights including rights to make medical decisions for spouses, visas, and tax benefits are still denied says the Diplomat.
Hong Kong’s small lean backward on LGBT rights in regards to the Visa Appeal comes in stark contrast to other Asian countries in the wake of Taiwan’s ruling to open the gates to Equal Marriage. The Historic ruling in May this year (2017) by the Council of Grand Justices in Taiwan, which functions as a constitutional court, ordered that “all legal restrictions were eliminated and that marriage between same-sex couples be recognised within two years.”
To the dismay of campaigners and activists the Prime Minister Willian Lai, then stating: “approval of gay marriage in this legislative session unlikely”
The Prime Minister justified the delay in the submission of the laws to obey the order of the Constitutional Court by the urgency of a debate on the issue from the central government budget.
Illustrating the wide divide in LGBT rights throughout Asia, an army captain was sentenced to six months in prison in South Korea for having sex with other servicemen and men in Indonesia’s Sharia law-ruled Aceh region were caned 83 times each for consensual gay sex.
Looking across the strait to Taiwan, many in the Hong Kong LGBT community are encouraged by the Taiwan LGBT community’s successful push for legislation to permit marriage between gay couples.
The Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance 1991 prohibits discrimination on a variety of grounds, including “other status”, this has been interpreted to include sexual orientation. However, the Bill of Rights only applies to government-sponsored discrimination and not the private sector. Since the 1990s LGBT rights groups have lobbied the Legislative Council to enact civil rights laws that include sexual orientation without success.
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are not currently recognised in Hong Kong.
Nonetheless, in June 2009, the Hong Kong Government extended limited recognition and protection to cohabitating same-sex couples in its Domestic Violence Ordinance.
Businesses within Hong Kong Have been showing their support for LGBT equality with softening views, with varying companies from the US & UK with LGBT Protections in place as well as in-house equality support, the call at pride for more equality freedoms as well as anti-discrimination being adopted for long-awaited equality in the country.
Firms include UBS, Barclays, Goldman Sachs and IBM have promoted global LGBT inclusion and support for its employees in some case the workplace in a lot of countries is the only safe place for employees to be themselves but allowing their employees to express themselves through the company ethos.
Last year, for instance, Not only did banking giant HSBC placed a pair of rainbow-pride lions out in front of its landmark building in the heart of Hong Kong in the promotion of equality but it also lit up the skyline in pride Colours in celebration of it.