Hundreds march for law to protect gays

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 12:00am

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets yesterday in Hong Kong's first gay rights march.

Organisers say more than 350 people took part in the march from the end of Lockhart Road in Causeway Bay to Victoria Park, where the group paraded around the fountain before returning to the starting point. Police said 270 attended.

The crowd, wearing feathered masks, waving rainbow flags and carrying placards reading: 'God Loves Us, Just Ask Her', and 'Turn Fear Into Love', chanted 'Eliminate homophobia, respect for diversity'.

Si-si Liu Pui-shan, chairwoman of Amnesty International in Hong Kong, said: 'We have been working with other groups to push for anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation. Right now, there are no consequences if someone violates the rights of a gay person.'

She said that as a signatory to international covenants on human rights, the government was obliged to enact anti-discrimination laws.

The march was organised to mark the first International Day Against Homophobia, which commemorates the removal by the World Health Organisation of homosexuality from its list of mental disorders on May 17, 1990.

The protesters included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals. Sam Winter, of the Transgender Equality and Acceptance Movement, told the crowd: 'Homophobia is nowhere more obvious than in the reluctance to allow same-sex marriage.'

He called on the government to allow marriage based on love and on 'what is in people's hearts and not on what is between their legs'.

The Equal Opportunities Commission has received more than 10,000 objections to a proposed law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. It has received just one letter supporting it.

Legislator Leung Kwok-hung apologised to the crowd for the failure of other legislators to appear.