LGBT book should be thrown at officials

Recent rows over gay issues have shown the government to be well behind the times and it is in no position to judge the sexual preferences of others

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 6:51am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 6:51am

For a government that claims it wants greater social harmony, recent rows over LGBT issues have been wholly of its own making.

From restricting access to children’s books with gay themes in public libraries to fighting – and losing – a court case involving an expatriate gay spouse all the way to the top court, officials created the conflicts while fighting a progressive trend that is probably irreversible.

Legalising same-sex marriage in Hong Kong is just a matter of time, though it may take us much longer. Taiwan, though, is already there.

Still, the government should recognise this global trend. It may be too hot a political potato for it to handle right now. But it would be wise to take steps in preparing the community for this eventuality, rather than trying to fight it.

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I say this not to advocate homosexuality but because it’s the rational and humane things to do.

Society may actually be ahead. A survey by the University of Hong Kong finds that one in two residents now supports same-sex marriage, a jump of 12 percentage points from four years ago.

Officials should take recent developments as a wake-up call. There was the backlash against a decision to put 10 children’s books with LGBT themes in closed stacks that could only be accessed on request. Public librarians were actually right to have ordered such books. Too bad they then caved to pressure from moralistic and religiously conservative lobby groups.

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Other than the most obscene, violent and/or extremist literature that offends common decency, it’s not the job of public librarians to decide what or how we should read.

They should always make the widest selection of books available.

As for the Immigration Department’s decision to fight a lesbian expatriate all the way to the Court of Final Appeal over her same-sex partner being granted a spousal visa, it has proved to be a waste of public resources.

The department could have unilaterally granted such visas without the costly and time-consuming intervention of the courts – because it was the humane and reasonable thing to do.

But, hiding behind rules and civil service bureaucracy, the role of religious conservatism should not be discounted among top officials all the way up to the chief executive herself.

For those Christians who run the policy bureaus and departments, they may do well to remember what the pope said when he was asked about homosexuality: “Who am I to judge?”