Police misstepped on lesbian dance

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am


The breaking up by police of a dance session during a gay parade on Sunday looks suspiciously like harassment.

The reason cited by police was absurd. A lesbian group wanted to perform a dance routine as part of a gathering to mark the 7th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Causeway Bay. But after five minutes, police broke it up, telling the 100 or so activists and participants their permit only allowed them to gather, not to dance. They needed a 'Temporary Places of Public Entertainment Licence' to perform.

The break-up was either an example of the bureaucratic and inflexible attitude of the police, or persecution. Neither view reflects well on Asia's finest.

It should be obvious that the performance was part of a demonstration for gay rights, and not primarily for entertainment. As organisers had already obtained prior police permission, the gathering was perfectly legal. It included guests such as the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Lam Woon-kwong, and lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan.

As if to underline the irony of the police intervention, Lam had earlier told the group he was committed to pressing for more legal rights for gays and lesbians.

Whatever one thinks of homosexuality, the activists had every right to express their political stance in the public space.

There's nothing new in activists using street performance as a form of protest. The so-called post-80s activists have perfected it as a means to express their discontent and anger. Police usually tolerated them in the past. So what was different on Sunday? We need an answer.