Lawmakers to debate whether to hold consultation on gay discrimination

Parent group fears legislation could stifle its right to criticise same-sex relationships

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 3:46am

The Legislative Council will today debate whether to hold a public consultation on outlawing discrimination against someone because of their sexual orientation.

Critics fear such legislation would make opposing same-sex relationships a criminal offence and curtail freedom of expression.

Leticia Lee See-yin, president of the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations of Yau, Tsim & Mong Kok Districts, fears such a law would criminalise the teaching by schools that homosexuality is unacceptable.

On the subject of a controversial 2002 children's book, King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Dijland, which features an image of two men kissing, she said: "Does this mean if someone requests to have this book made available in school, it would be illegal to refuse because it would be discrimination?"

Hong Kong has legislation to protect against discrimination based on race, gender, family status and disability - but not sexual orientation.

Lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of the Labour Party, who moved the motion for debate, met representatives from the Society of Truth and Light to reassure them they would not go to jail for falling foul of such legislation.

Ho cited cases where disability discrimination laws had been violated and perpetrators were fined rather than being given custodial sentences.

"This is a basic human right for people of different sexual orientation. We are promoting peace, not provoking conflict," Ho said.

Felix Chung Kwok-pan, of the Liberal Party, has proposed an amendment to strengthen existing policies rather than open the door to new legislation.

The debate comes ahead of the Pride Parade on Saturday, which will see people campaigning for gay rights marching from Victoria Park to Chater Garden in Central.

Connie Chan Man-wai, chairwoman of the lesbian rights group Women's Coalition, said some religious groups planned to join the rally and pray among the crowd.

"We are discussing how to use love to embrace them. We are considering a big gay hug," she said.

Equal Opportunities Commission chairman and executive councillor Lam Woon-kwong said a public consultation was overdue.