Discrimination

You can gather but you can't dance, police tell gays

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2011, 12:00am

You can stand around but you can't dance, the police have told a group of gay activists.

Police officers broke up a dance session during a rally yesterday, telling about 100 activists and participants that their permit allowed them to gather but not to dance.

The gathering, which police videotaped, was held in the pedestrian area of East Point Road, Causeway Bay, to mark the 7th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (Idaho). Among the guests were the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Lam Woon-kwong, and lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan.

'We are simply having a peaceful, meaningful gathering to encourage all gays and lesbians in Hong Kong. Why would they [the police] treat us like we have committed a major crime?' Idaho chairman Reggie Ho said.

'Some of us have come a long way to take the courage to tell people who we are, but did not expect to be filmed. One of our volunteers was so afraid that she burst into tears.'

The dance, originally scheduled to last 30 minutes and aimed at expressing the difficulties of being homosexual, was begun by a group of lesbians.

But it was brought to a halt within five minutes because the group did not have what police said was the required permit - a 'Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence'.

However, an hour before the rally, when the dancers were rehearsing at the same location, officers had not taken any action, another organiser, Frances Tang Yiu-kwong, said.

Before police broke up the dance, Lam told the gathering: 'Although the EOC currently does not have the authority to help homosexuals, I am committed to press for more legal bills to protect all of you.'

Some participants also told the gathering of their personal experiences.

A 48-year-old transsexual, Joanne Yeung, said she had been struggling with Christianity since she was young, having been persuaded by her church to attend therapy to become 'a normal person'.

'Why do people keep forcing me to change the way I am?' she said.

The rally was one of the campaigns of the annual international Idaho - which was established in 2005 - which aims to raise people's awareness of homophobia.

Lam and Ho had left the rally by the time police broke up the dancing.