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PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 2003, 12:00am

Sek Yiu-fai, 37, says he was shocked at the church protest by gay activists, but agrees that Hong Kong should drop its prejudices and permit homosexual marriages. Ride from Hang Hau to Causeway Bay. Cost: $195.

I have to admit that I was quite shocked by the way those gay rights activists conducted their protest last Sunday. They shouldn't have barged into the church and interrupted the religious ceremony. By doing that, they have basically gone against their own belief about protecting individual rights. They have infringed on the right to religious worship. I hope they have learned from this experience, and I think they should read all the press reports to get a better idea about the public response.

The gay activists should be more careful in future and make sure they do not cross that line again. I suspect a lot of people who might have been sympathetic towards their cause in the past were quite offended by their church action. The activists certainly have a good reason to challenge the church for discrimination and suppression of gay rights, but their form of expression was questionable. I don't think they were malicious; maybe it was merely desperation.

I think in general Hong Kong people are quite open-minded and tolerant of things and people who are different, as long as their own lives are not affected. But I seriously don't believe Hong Kong is ready for same-sex marriages. Never mind that the Hong Kong public might have a high tolerance threshold, we cannot expect the conservative Chinese culture to change overnight. To many Chinese people, same-sex relationships are not considered natural.

I personally have no problems with allowing gays and lesbians full rights and letting them enjoy all the legal rights heterosexual couples are entitled to. We should not treat same-sex couples differently. Their unions are not hurting anyone or causing any disruption to our lives. If two consenting adults want to get married because they love each other, their union should be blessed and supported, but not persecuted just because they are of the same sex. I think same-sex marriages have a better chance to last than heterosexual relationships, because two people of the same sex can better understand each other.

If I found out one of my relatives or even my children were gay, I would not treat them differently. My feelings for them would not diminish just because they have a different sexual orientation. We shouldn't impose our moral standards on others or expect others to follow the way we live. People are entitled to choose the way they want to conduct their lives. Gays and lesbians should not be treated differently as a minority, which is the fundamental problem. Gay people have to live like second-class citizens because our laws are so outdated. If Hong Kong wants to take a dominant position on the world stage as an international city, we should start thinking and living like an international city, and get rid of these old prejudicial attitudes.