Gay Games a chance to boost tolerance in Hong Kong

Bid to host the 2022 event opens the door for city to have much-needed public debate on acceptance of sexual minorities

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 1:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 1:41am

Hong Kong has been shortlisted to host the Gay Games in 2022. The Equal Opportunities Commission, the Tourism Board and a host of companies are supporting the bid. They have good reason to: hundreds of millions of dollars will be brought to our economy by the participants and spectators. That is cause for society to offer backing, but also a reason to educate about the need for acceptance and ending discrimination against sexual minorities.

Our city has a good chance of beating out rivals Washington in the US and Guadalajara in Mexico. The Games, an international multi-sport and culture festival staged every four years since 1982, have never been held in Asia. That is exciting for Asia’s estimated 221 million lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, but not for the conservative elements of society who oppose even giving the most basic equal rights to sexual minority groups. Their opposition is why Hong Kong’s Immigration Department does not grant dependency visas for same-sex partners and the government has not legalised or recognised gay marriage, as have two dozen countries.

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Such opposition is not in keeping with the standards expected of a global business and finance centre, nor does it help with the development and growth of new industries. Competition is fierce for talent and Hong Kong needs to have an open immigration door that is accepting of all qualified people, no matter what their personal circumstances. The conservatism or religious beliefs of a particular section of society should not impact the hiring policies of companies or the benefits they provide to employees and their partners.

The organisers claim no taxpayers’ money will be needed to stage the Games as the cost will be covered by sponsorship and donations. Government sporting facilities would be used, but the benefits of hosting 15,000 athletes and 40,000 visitors would provide a considerable economic boost. The event would also give a clear message about openness and tolerance. Regardless of whether the bid succeeds, our city needs to have the public discussion about equality for all in society, no matter what their sexual orientation, that it has for too long been avoiding.