Homophobia in Hong Kong, host of the 2022 Gay Games: how’s that for irony?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 8:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 July, 2018, 8:34pm

Much as the world may claim that great strides have been made, both socially and legally, in accepting the LGBT community, it is no secret that homophobia is alive and kicking.

There are times when the LGBT community is condemned outright, yet the system and office-bearers put on a charade and claim to not discriminate. This is what we are seeing in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Public Libraries set the ball rolling by pulling LGBT-themed children’s books off the shelf, under pressure from one vociferously homophobic group. Apart from going against the stated anti-discrimination policy of the government, by pulling these titles off the shelves, the public library gave its tacit approval to anti-LGBT sentiments.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor says that same-sex marriage is an issue that lacks social consensus in Hong Kong. In February 2017, then top-job hopeful Ms Lam had been urged to clarify her stance on this issue. She first said she would not rule out a public consultation on gay marriage, then also said there was no social consensus and that her response about a public consultation had just been “out of courtesy”. Such statements are astonishing beyond belief.

Hong Kong’s marriage traditions were plural, so why not same-sex unions?

Much of homophobia stems from mis-education. It is easy for bigotry to exist and thrive in a context of ignorance. But when people in authority with the power to take decisions – and government bodies with a responsibility for public education – start displaying insularity and narrow-mindedness through their comments, policies and actions, it sends out all the wrong messages.

Such tacit approval of homophobia comes in a city set to host the Gay Games in 2022. The irony isn’t lost on me.

Gauri Venkitaraman, Lam Tin