Pink Season 2012 to celebrate gay and transgender rights

With 30 events, festival will be biggest of its kind in Asia and one of the largest in the world

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2012, 3:11am

The summer may be ending, but Pink Season is just starting, with a two-month stretch of parties, gay pageants and family-friendly events to celebrate gay and transgender rights for tourists and Hongkongers alike.

Pink Season 2012 will include 30 events, such as picnics and photo exhibits, from September 29 to December 4 - making it the largest such festival in Asia and one of the largest in the world.

The Tourism Board first approached Pink Alliance, a Hong Kong network of gay-rights groups, with the idea of organising a pride festival for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community last year.

Pink Alliance volunteers took up the challenge, and the first Pink Season festival attracted more than 10,000 participants to 22 of their events in the city.

This year, organisers have made the festival more family-friendly so that more people will feel comfortable participating, said Pink Season volunteer co-ordinator Tay Her Lim.

"Pink Season is not just about promoting LGBT pride; it's about having fun, inclusive events to encourage all kinds of people in society to learn about LGBT issues and get involved," the 33-year-old said.

The family-friendly events will include a picnic at Middle Bay Beach on October 14 called Out in the Open, Gay Day @ Disneyland on November 11, as well as photography exhibitions and a film festival in cinemas across the city.

But there will still be plenty of parties and adult entertainment events, including a lesbian dance party at Les Peches club on October 1, burlesque performances and the Mr Gay Hong Kong pageant finale on October 6, where the Hong Kong representative for Mr Gay World will be decided.

Most events are free and do not require advance ticket purchases. All the events, which are listed on are open to people of all sexual orientations.

This year's flagship sponsor is British bank Barclays, which has been active in promoting LGBT rights in Hong Kong.

"We're providing Pink Season with financial aid, but our sponsorship of [the event] also helps send the message to our own employees that they are welcome," said James Wang Ching-yuan, director of operations at Barclays in Hong Kong.

Earlier this year, Barclays sponsored a study on attitudes to and experiences of lesbian, gay and transgender employees in Hong Kong workplaces.

The study found that 35 per cent of the working population considered it unacceptable to give LGBT staff a role where they interacted with customers.

The study also found that 85 per cent of 628 LGBT employees said they had experienced a "negative impact" from working in a "non-inclusive workplace".

"Every city in Asia has its own priorities when it comes to LGBT issues," said Lim, the volunteer. "In Singapore, homosexuality is still considered a crime. In Hong Kong, there is no law that protects LGBT employees against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation."

"We hope Pink Season will allow Hongkongers to meet more LGBT people, and get involved in lobbying the government to protect LGBT rights," he said.