Christian groups packed the Legislative Council yesterday and accused the government of failing to uphold family values.
Eighty-nine members of the community, most of them Christian, spoke at the public hearing on amendments to the Domestic Violence Ordinance, and only a few said they could accept a proposal to include homosexual couples in the law.
Many deputations urged the government to change the bill's name in Chinese to 'Residential Violence Ordinance' or 'Family and Domestic Violence Ordinance'. Nearly everyone said the inclusion of same-sex couples would undermine the concept of marriage.
Ngai Lap-yin, attending in an individual capacity, said: 'We do not want another July 1. The government must not do anything to divide society. We have to protect the safety of homosexuals but also respect society's moral standards.'
Ng Wai-ching, director of the Association for Concern for Legal Rights of Victims of Domestic Violence, argued that covering homosexual couples was not going to undermine families or the value of marriage.
'Australia did not agree to legalise same-sex marriages, but Queensland's domestic and family violence law has covered same-sex couples from 2003. It did not affect marriage policy,' said Ms Ng.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung reiterated that the government did not support gay marriage.
The amendment to extend the provisions of the law to include homosexual couples has drawn a record number of deputations to attend Legco public hearings.
The Catholic Church has said it would agree to an extension of the law to protect same-sex cohabitants from domestic violence, but only if the name of the law does not contain the words 'family' or 'marriage'.
The law, enacted in 1986, enables a party to a marriage, or someone cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex, to seek a court injunction to prevent their partner abusing them.