Group behind gay pride parade cries discrimination

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am


The people behind a parade celebrating sexual minorities say they faced discrimination by officials in organising the event this year.

'We applied a year ago to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for a location in Victoria Park for 1,500 people to congregate, but our applications to use the soccer pitch, the lawn or the band stand were all rejected,' Connie Chan Man-wai, chief director of the Hong Kong Pride Parade committee, said.

Paraders now plan to meet in East Point Road in Causeway Bay for the pride event on Saturday. But Chan said the size of the site was not ideal to safely hold the 1,500 to 2,000 people expected to attend.

'The LCSD told us too many parades and protesters used Victoria Park as a meeting point, and they wish to have the grounds more available for the public to use for recreational purposes, rather than it becoming known as a meeting point for protests and parades,' she said.

The department could not be reached for comment.

On Saturday afternoon Standard Chartered Bank and the Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation will host a two-day arts festival on the Victoria Park lawn.

'We think it's a shame, and also strange and worrying that a corporation has obtained approval to use the grounds,' Chan said.

Standard Chartered's arts festival attracted about 65,000 people last year.

Parade organisers are still struggling to raise funds for their event celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community but say they will press on. They have raised less than half of the HK$150,000 they need. The committee tried but failed to get celebrities to attend, although they sent out the invites six months ago, and said the lack of big-name backing was due to discrimination.

But Chan said the committee was honoured to have Equal Opportunity Commission chairman Lam Woon-kwong serve as ambassador of the parade.

'It is the first time that we have had corporate sponsors and university student organisations approaching us to say they want to take part.

'We also have a tremendous amount of interest from mainland China which makes up as many as a third of our paraders. We play an important role as we are the only city in China that can have a gay pride parade,' Chan said.

The committee is encouraging protesters to switch up the sex appeal and be confident in their skin to fit with this year's dress code of 'Dress Sexy and Act Out'.