Fight over sexual discrimination

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2003, 12:00am

A group of gay and lesbian activists yesterday said they had to resort to drastic action because the lack of a law banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation left them particularly vulnerable in Hong Kong.

In a report to the Legislative Council in December 2001, the government declared its opposition to same-sex marriages and said it would not legislate to outlaw discrimination against gays and lesbians.

A survey released a few years before the Legco report showed same-sex marriages rated only 3.3 and 3.7 out of 10 in terms of acceptability by the public.

But a survey of 1,604 people released in August last year by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and gay rights group Tongzhi found 80 per cent of people believed homosexual couples should have the right to marry and adopt children.

Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in 1981, gay couples cannot legally marry or make medical decisions on behalf of incapacitated partners.

In a meeting with Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping last October, gay-rights groups were assured the government would work to ensure equal opportunities, but Dr Ho was non-committal when asked about legislation banning sexual-orientation discrimination.

Roddy Shaw, of Civil Rights for Sexual Diversities, said he found it difficult to believe anybody could be in favour of discrimination against any group.