Talented people will avoid Hong Kong until same-sex unions are legal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 5:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 9:23pm

I read Dr Karen Lee’s article on the history of same-sex marriage (“Has the time come for Hong Kong to legalise same-sex marriage?”, November 28) with interest.

I will be returning to Asia this summer to celebrate my marriage to my US-born wife with my extended family in Hong Kong and her extended family in Taiwan.

Taiwan is actively considering legislation that would make it the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage.

The prospect wounds my pride. If China is serious about the one-China policy, it should quickly legalise same-sex marriage across the country to encourage warmer cross-strait relations. The last thing I want is for my Taiwanese in-laws to lecture me on how backward Hong Kong and the rest of China are for treating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people like second-class citizens.

As a former steering committee member of the Gayglers, Google’s LGBT employee group, I can also attest to the positive economic benefits of recognising same-sex marriages: reduced bureaucracy, improved productivity, and an invaluable advantage for employers seeking to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. A case in point, my wife, an award-winning researcher, and I work on the cutting edge of robotics.

I am part of a small executive committee in Silicon Valley that was invited to meet a visiting delegation of Hong Kong industry leaders in January. Delegation members from Hong Kong include Andrew Young, chief commercial officer of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, and Basil Wai, CEO of the Hong Kong Electronics Industries Association, among others.

They seek to encourage Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to set up shop in Hong Kong with promises of co-investment and grants. Can the government realistically expect my wife and I, and others like us, to start a company in Hong Kong if they fail to recognise our legal marriage?

Our expertise is in demand. Why would we create jobs in a city that does not give us equal weight under the law?

And if neither the political nor economic arguments resonate, consider the Confucian argument of filial piety. When my wife and I have children, we would like to live in Hong Kong for a while so my ageing parents can spend time with their grandchildren.

My parents have happily accepted my wife as their daughter-in-law. Does the Chinese government truly want to stand in the way of a reunited family?

Cynthia Yeung, Oakland, California, US