Changing name of 'family violence ordinance' would be discrimination, gay groups declare

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 January, 2009, 12:00am

Representatives of gay groups said yesterday they opposed changing the name of the Domestic Violence Ordinance if it was amended to extend its provisions to same-sex couples.

Classifying homosexuals differently would in itself be discriminatory, they said.

Religious and conservative groups and a leading Democratic Party member have proposed changing the Chinese name from 'family violence ordinance' to 'home violence ordinance' if it is amended to cover homosexual couples.

At a forum organised by the Civil Human Rights Front, gay groups opposed the name change, but stopped short of urging lawmakers to reject the amendment altogether if the name were changed.

Joseph Cho Man-kit, vice-president of the Hong Kong Ten Percent Club, said accepting the name change would be a step backwards for gay groups.

Connie Chan Man-wai, of the Women's Coalition, agreed. She urged those calling for a name change to reflect on their reasons for wanting it.

'The only reason is discrimination,' she said. 'No one decides to become gay, or wants a same-sex marriage just because same-sex couples [will be] protected under a 'family violence' law.'

However, pan-democratic lawmakers at the forum said a compromise could be needed to ensure the amendment passed. Democratic Party member Wong Sing-chi, who received heavy criticism for voicing religious groups' concerns about the law's name, said he would propose the name 'family and home violence ordinance' as a compromise.

He stressed that he supported the protection of same-sex couples, 'but as a responsible lawmaker, I cannot ... rule out changing anything'.

'If there are concerns in the community, I have to act on them,' he said.