Gay groups to protest against political 'family values' advert

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 August, 2008, 12:00am

Homosexual concern groups will stage a protest today outside the offices of a conservative religious group that placed an advertisement calling on the government and Legislative Council election candidates to defend heterosexual marriage.

The full-page advertisement, placed by the Society for Truth and Light in two Chinese-language newspapers yesterday, urged the government to do more to strengthen traditional family values and heterosexual marriage in the face of rising divorce rates.

About 125 mainly Christian groups and 7,048 individuals expressed support in the advertisement.

'Another reason we ran the advertisement is that we do not want to see gay people living under the same roof to be included in the Domestic Violence Ordinance,' Society for Truth and Light secretary general Choi Chi-sum said.

About a dozen members of various gay and lesbian groups will gather outside the society's office in Mong Kok to voice their discontent over the advertisement.

In June, the ordinance was extended to cover people abused not only by present or former spouses, but by family members and present or former cohabitants - taken to mean males and females living together as couples.

The amendment took effect from the start of this month.

The government has also proposed extending the ordinance to cover cohabitation between people of the same sex.

'If the government includes gay couples in this law, then it will send out a wrong message to the public: the government supports gay marriages,' Mr Choi said.

But Joseph Cho Man-kit, a spokesman for the protesting groups, said some members of the gay and lesbian community also encountered domestic violence, and the government should include them in the ordinance.

'The government promised that it would discuss if gay and lesbian people living together should be included in the law in the coming legislative session,' he said.

'We are quite confident that we will be covered by the law.

'It seems that the advertisement is a tactic used by the group to appeal for support from candidates who are running for the Legislative Council election, as those who will be elected will be the ones who vote against or for including homosexual couples in the law.' Mr Cho said including gay couples in the ordinance did not mean the government was expressing support for gay marriages.

'These are two totally different things. The law aims only to protect people from domestic violence. If homosexual couples are excluded from the law, then that is discrimination,' he said. 'The law has been extended to cover many different groups of people with different relationships, and I don't see why gay couples should not be included.'

The Society for Truth and Light plans to conduct a poll to collect Legco election candidates' views on including homosexual couples in the ordinance.