Gay rights


Arthur Tam gets the LGBT community’s reaction after CY says there’ll be no public consultation over gay rights

Christians campaigning against gay rights. It’s nothing new. Religious groups protesting against homosexuality in general has happened at one stage or another in virtually every country in the world. But the demonstrations we’ve just witnessed in Hong Kong seemingly changed the mind of our Chief Executive, CY Leung, who was tipped to make a brave move in favour of gay rights. His first policy address on January 16 was meant to give the LGBT community a boost when he announced the long-awaited public consultation over gay rights was soon to take place. But he didn’t do that. There is to be no consultation yet on sexual orientation discrimination laws.
Was that due to the protests on January 13? Police have estimated that about 5,000 demonstrators (religious groups claim thousands more) amassed in a three-hour prayer-protest in Tamar Square and objected to the proposed consultation. And then Leung gave his policy address and dashed the hopes of many homosexuals. Some have claimed Leung’s move was simply down to the controversial nature of the subject. Others have pointed towards Christian influences in the government. Either way, he left some people in the LGBT community in a state of distress.

“We pay our taxes,” says irritated longtime gay activist, Anshuman Das, also known as AD. “We pay for every damn thing just like everyone else. It’s hard-earned LGBT money that goes into the hospitals, the parks and the pockets of LegCo members. Why can’t we have hospital visitation rights if we pay into the system?” Chairman of the Pink Alliance, Reggie Ho, agrees. “Many times we have heard CY saying he wants to be an independently minded leader who looks at the issues and does the right thing,” he says. “That’s what a leader should do – but he keeps putting out the same excuses. We will continue to approach the discussion because I don’t think it’s too late for him to change.”

Uncertain of when Leung may change his mind (which many think is inevitable in this ever-changing world), some people in the LGBT community have vowed not to sit idly by. Pro gay-rights legislator Cyd Ho has unified the community by gathering the likes of openly gay legislator Raymond Chan along with pop singers Denise Ho and Anthony Wong to form the Big Love Alliance campaign which sports the slogan ‘no legislation is discrimination’. Groups like the Pink Alliance, Hong Kong Pride Committee and Rainbow of Hong Kong have banded together in support by approaching the public and raising awareness through social media. Those who support the campaign have been taking photos of themselves sporting the slogan and uploading the images to Facebook. The initiative has gone viral, with participation from major celebrities like Zhou Xun, Leon Lai, Aarif Lee, Crowd Lu, Shawn Yue and even Vivienne Westwood uploading their photos – turning the Big Love Alliance into a global campaign.
In addition, AD has also taken it upon himself to launch an anti-discrimination workplace video called The Pantry because, he says, ‘the consultation was meant for an ordinance that would protect homosexuals’. “A lot of us are good actors pretending to be straight,” he says. “But when we don’t have to act, we don’t have to worry and we can focus on productivity.” When asked to comment on those who oppose gay rights, he says: “People just want to live in a cocoon instead of looking to see what is going on in the rest of the world. If you have a doubt, you ask. A public consultation is the best way to do that.”

But therein, possibly, lies the problem. The opposition, mostly coming from a conservative religious point of view, is up for discussing the subject – and may continue discussing it as long as there is no legislation for gay rights – causing a standstill. Pastor Jayson Tam of Yan Fook Church, one of the organisations behind the protests, said to the press around the time of the protests: “If the law passes, those who disagree with people who choose the path of homosexuality will be affected – putting their freedom of speech at stake.”

In the coming 18 months, Cyd Ho and the Big Love Alliance are going to garner as much support before they attempt another push for public consultation. “Each issue can only be put forth once a year at LegCo,” says Ho, “unless a severe case of discrimination happens before then. In the meantime, we will work hard with our supporters to dispel the fears of the opposition and answer their concerns and the examples that they bring forth.” Hopefully both groups can come to an understanding in the near future, for the good of everyone… 

Big Love Alliance


Add your comment