HSBC labelled arrogant over refusal to hold dialogue with Hong Kong anti-gay activists

Controversy erupted after banking giant installed two multicoloured lions at its headquarters to symbolise its inclusive policies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 December, 2016, 8:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 12:43pm

Anti-gay activists have described as “arrogant” and “unacceptable” HSBC’s refusal to hold a dialogue over the display of a pair of multicoloured lions symbolising LGBT rights.

The Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group was informed on Friday that HSBC’s senior management “will not be available for further discussion”, despite an invitation to exchange ideas on the issue.

The “Pride and Unity lions”, which have been sitting outside the banking giant’s Central headquarters since November 30 as part of the corporation’s campaign to promote diversity and inclusion, are set to be removed as scheduled on Friday evening after a month-long campaign.

Hackers target petition against HSBC’s pro-LGBT lions, Hong Kong family alliance says

Roger Wong Wai-ming, convenor of the concern group and the leading force behind the petition, said he did not understand why such a humble request was turned down.

“Our protest was held [outside HSBC’s headquarters] on December 14. We waited for half a month for such a response,” Wong said.

Watch: HSBC’s rainbow lions cause storm in Hong Kong

The activist went further to slam the company’s inclusive policies, including spousal benefits to gay partners of employees.

“This is essentially hijacking the freedom of conscience of its shareholders,” Wong said.

“If someone bought shares 10 years ago, how would they be able to learn of such policies which were only introduced in recent years?”

Asked if he was relieved to see the rainbow lions finally being removed after the month-long exhibition, he said their removal was “irrelevant” as it would happen on schedule, rather than in response to their demands.

“They could remove them today and come back tomorrow with similar installations, such as shining multicoloured lights on the original lion statues.”

In a company letter to Wong, HSBC stressed it “respects everyone’s right to express their views on the Pride and Unity lions as well as our diversity and inclusion policies”.

“We are committed to serving the needs of all our customers, and the wider community, in Hong Kong and wherever we operate,” it added.

An inquiry by the Post to HSBC for further comment was not answered.