Sexual orientation law 'hurts free speech', says Cardinal John Tong Hon

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 4:19am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 4:19am

A law against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation could infringe freedom of speech and religion, the head of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong has said.

Speaking publicly for the first time on the issue, Cardinal John Tong Hon said the law could breach the United Nations' 1948 human rights declaration.

"Actually, such a law that claims to ensure equality is extremely likely to cause serious infringement on the freedom of speech and of religion, as well as violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the cardinal told the diocese publication Kung Kao Po.

He said the declaration stated that everyone had the right to express their views through any channels without intervention.

He also rejected suggestions by some gay groups that churches be exempted from any such law, meaning they would not be in violation even if they made speeches against homosexuals.

"This would divide the relationship between the churches and society," the cardinal said.

Tong spoke out against same-sex marriage, saying the tradition that marriage should be between a man and a woman was for "the well-being of human society".

Brian Leung, convenor of rights group the Big Love Alliance, accused the cardinal of not giving the whole picture.

"The declaration also says that people cannot discriminate against homosexuals, and that they should be treated equally. He can't just talk about one part of the declaration and be tight-lipped about the other parts."

He said Pope Francis had made speeches that showed greater acceptance of homosexuals than previous popes. He hoped the cardinal would learn from the pope.