500 attend rally against homophobia

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 May, 2012, 12:00am


Gays, lesbians and transgender people gathered in Central for an anti-discrimination rally yesterday, days after US president Barack Obama made a landmark statement in support of same-sex marriage.

Celebrities and politicians also attended the two-hour event at Chater Garden to mark International Day Against Homophobia.

Many were dressed in black, as requested by organisers.

Canto-pop star Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, who recently announced he was gay, performed on stage.

Other guests among the 500-strong crowd included lawmakers Cyd Ho Sau-lan of the Labour Party and Audrey Eu Yuet-mee from the Civic Party. New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee sent a message of support.

Nigel Collett, co-secretary of rally organiser Pink Alliance, said public perceptions of homosexuality and gender issues were changing in Hong Kong. 'There's a sense that things are shifting,' he said, referring to the show of support from the Labour and New People's political parties against discrimination based on sexuality and gender.

'[The event] has built up over the years and it's important in Hong Kong because there are very few opportunities for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community to show itself.' Collett said while the city was catching up on issues concerned with sexuality-based discrimination, it was about 20 years behind Britain. 'We are more open and active now, but we need to be kept in the public eye,' he said, noting that the rally's message this year was 'No need to fear'.

Transgender and sexuality academic Sam Winter, from the University of Hong Kong, said the rally was 'very upbeat and positive'. He added: 'There's an increasing number of people in Hong Kong who are saying they are gay, lesbian or transgender, so there's more confidence.'

At last year's rally, held in Causeway Bay, police told a 20-year-old man he would be arrested if he kept dancing. He has filed an application for a judicial review of police actions.