• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:42pm
NewsHong Kong

Three in four want more rights for gays, survey finds

Though Hongkongers tend not to approve of same-sex marriage, most back greater equality

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 6:47am

Most locals want gay and lesbian couples in the city to enjoy the same civil rights as their heterosexual peers, but marriage is still off the cards for now, new research from the University of Hong Kong shows.

One of the authors of the report, Kelley Loper from HKU's Centre for Comparative and Public Law, said the results showed that it was not an "all or nothing" debate when it came to legal protection for same-sex couples.

"There is not strong public support for same-sex marriage but there are other policy options that are available which still move things forward for them," she said. "These other rights are particularly salient for same-sex and heterosexual couples and have resonance in Hong Kong but also around the world.

"For example, if your partner got ill, you would want to be able to visit them in hospital."

Three out of four respondents to a phone survey last June said they supported granting same-sex couples many of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.

These included hospital visits during hours designated for family members, protection from housing discrimination, the right to sue and claim compensation in the case of wrongful death, and the right to inherit property in the case of their partner's death.

But only 27 per cent completely agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

The survey took a random sample of 410 people aged over 18, with 98 per cent of interviews conducted in Cantonese and the remainder in English.

A spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission welcomed the findings as it has been advocating for anti-discrimination legislation to protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

"We are encouraged to see that a large majority of people in Hong Kong support conferring rights on committed same-sex couples as for heterosexual couples," the spokesman said.

Teacher Michael Morrill, who won Mr Gay Hong Kong in October, said 74 per cent of people welcoming an extension of rights for same-sex couples meant "Hong Kong is moving in the right direction". The American moved here from South Korea five years ago and said that in recent years, society had shown a greater openness towards the gay community than before.

Protection from housing discrimination was particularly important, he said, because this was something he experienced when he first moved to Hong Kong with his boyfriend at the time.

"When we said we didn't need a two-bedroom apartment and that one bedroom was enough, our application was rejected," said Morrill, 35.

Holning Lau, a law professor from the University of North Carolina who co-authored the report, said he hoped the research would further the debate in government on this issue.

"Looking around the world, we know that there are many ways that governments can extend rights to same-sex couples without legalising same-sex marriage." These included civil unions and partnerships, registered domestic partnerships, and reciprocal beneficiaries.

"I wanted to investigate whether there is public support in Hong Kong for these legal solutions, solutions that exist somewhere on the spectrum between no rights and full marriage rights," he said.

Both Loper and Lau hope the study - also co-authored by social scientist Charles Lau - will inform the debate, which gained momentum late last year after Equal Opportunities Commission chairman York Chow Yat-ngok recommended that the city develop legal protection for same-sex couples, short of marriage.


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oh no
more pro g a y propaganda from the scmp
for the sake of transparency please advise the readers how many of the the scmp staff
are g a y
I hope the fundamentalist Christians in the Government will follow Pope Francis' lead on this. The delay in introducing equality based legislation in domestic violence cases involving same sex couples was disgraceful. Dr. York Chow is showing the way and should be congratulated on his efforts to update our very outdated legislation.
What was said by Dao-Phooy is true that the current legislation in HK is very outdated. However, it's also undeniable that the reasonableness, logicality and humanity are not the only things took into consideration when it comes to legislation. Its sad to admit that the intension from the general public plays a crucial part when it comes to such issue cause there's not a single government running the accountability system, especially in place that the right of universal suffrage is not granted because its understandable that no one is willing to take the risk to fight against the main opinion for those who have no right to secure their present wealth and power. However, when a thing is understandable doesn't make it right like robbing a loaf of bread for a starving little daughter. The toughest thing here is not only to help those people poll against the legislation of same-sex marriage to open their eyes to the reasonableness of this thing, it's also to prey for those who are enjoying these rights be willing to fight for the minority's right while it may harms the benefits and rights that they have already had.
Excuse me, I don't see any point for you to ask this question cause no matter the answer is one or only one is not gay it will make no different to you because you have already jumped to a conclusion that no matter those editors are gay or not, they are from the pro gay camp, so their standing point is the same. Besides, is there a meaning of classifying people into a pro-camp or an anti-camp? Coz it sounds to me like classifying people into Coke lovers or Persi lovers. It's pointless except stirring conflict deliberately so making people into two groups is a necessarily.


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