On gay rights, Hong Kong is in denial, as appeal court ruling shows

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 June, 2018, 6:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 9:03am

Do the judges who gave the verdict on the appeal regarding benefits for same-sex spouses have any idea how offensive and discriminatory their words sound (“Government has ‘legitimate aim’ to protect traditional marriage, Hong Kong appeal court rules, overturning landmark decision on benefits for same-sex spouses”, June 1)?

If certain benefits were granted, the Court of Appeal judges wrote, “the very status of marriage would diminish significantly in the eyes of the public”, and it would “offend, challenge, question, confuse, or subtly change society’s established understanding and concept of marriage”.

Ruling a setback for Hong Kong’s image as a fair and tolerant city

According to one judge, it was undisputed that the word “marriage” referred to the union between a man and a woman.

But even in Hong Kong, it is disputed, as this appeal shows. Forty countries worldwide already recognise either same-sex marriage or civil unions; Australia in December became the 26th nation in the world to allow same-sex couples to marry, after Taiwan became the first Asian jurisdiction to rule to legalise this, in May last year.

Can Hong Kong follow Taiwan’s lead on same-sex marriage?

But these judges in Hong Kong still unapologetically entertain anti-gay reflexes institutionalised in a hodgepodge of private persuasions, religious or otherwise.

The anti-gay reflex may be universal, but how a society deals with it shows its state of civilisation. For now, ugly gut-feelings continue to block equal treatment for a group of citizens.

Hong Kong is not just lagging behind, it is in denial.

Josephine Bersee, Mid-Levels