Carrie Lam angers both sides with confusing remarks on Hong Kong legalisation of same-sex marriage

Contradictory comments on thorny issue lead to questions about her integrity and intentions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2017, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2017, 12:22pm

Chief executive hopeful Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has been urged to publicly clarify her stance on the legalisation of same-sex marriage after she angered both pro and anti-gay-rights groups with contradictory remarks on the contentious issue.

In the latest twist to her election bid, the two camps questioned Lam’s integrity on Wednesday, accusing her of backtracking on her stance on the issue and causing confusion with her remarks.

Earlier this month, Lam said on a Commercial Radio programme that she would “not rule out consultation” on gay marriages. As a devout Catholic, Lam added that she always reminded herself not to let her religious beliefs interfere with her judgment on policy formulation.

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“But if the time is not ripe for legislation and we still push for it, then this may trigger a backlash against gay people who will face hostility and discrimination,” she argued.

However, when confronted by an anti-gay-rights concern group which was petitioning to Lam’s campaign office on Wednesday, her spokesman Tai Keen-man, former RTHK deputy broadcasting director, said her earlier comments about gay marriage consultation were only a response “out of courtesy”.

“We already replied to the group that Mrs Lam has no intention to push for same-sex marriages. When there is no social consensus, it will only further divide society,” he told the Post.

However, petition organiser Roger Wong Wai-ming, convenor of the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, said they were worried that Lam might proceed with legalising gay marriages.

“If same-sex marriages are legalised, people who embrace traditional family values will be forced to betray their conscience and accept something they don’t accept,” he said.

“To us, not ruling out consultation means she may push for its legalisation. A chief executive candidate’s integrity is very important. We demand Lam publicly clarify her stance,” Wong added.

Brian Leung Siu-fai, chief campaigner of gay rights group Big Love Alliance, also waded into the row, accusing Lam of uttering hypocritical rhetoric to mislead the public.

“How can she expect people to trust her? She lacks integrity. This issue should not be avoided.

“Hong Kong should start discussing some options to enhance the rights of gay couples such as the concept of civil partnership. It doesn’t mean that we have to legalise gay marriages immediately,” he argued.

A spokesman for another chief executive hopeful, John Tsang Chun-wah, said the issue required thorough discussion in society. “We’ll listen to views of the community,” he told the Post.

Another contender Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she had no comment while Woo Kwok-hing said earlier he kept an open mind about legalised gay marriages.

Roger Wong’s group also said it would try meeting the chief executive hopefuls and some voters.