HK Magazine Archive

McDonald's Taiwan Releases Pro-Gay Rights Video: But How is Hong Kong Doing?

The fast food chain has come out with a pro-gay rights video, but the SAR lags behind.

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 March, 2016, 6:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:59pm

McDonald’s Taiwan has been attacked—and praised—for a viral ad in which a young man comes out to his father by writing “I like boys” on his coffee cup. His father initially appears upset and storms off, but he soon returns to their table to add three Chinese characters to his son’s message, forming the sentence, “I accept that you like boys”.

The 90-second video, which was uploaded to McDonald’s Taiwan’s Facebook page last Friday, has since been shared more than 12,000 times on the social media platform, and viewed more than 1.3 million times on the company’s YouTube channel.

The video drew criticism from a Taiwanese anti-LGBT group, which slammed McDonald’s, saying “The act of using McDonald’s washrooms makes us feel corrupted.”

“This ad sends a wonderful message,” says Brian Leung, of Hong Kong LGBT charity Big Love Alliance. “McDonald’s is a family-oriented company and it’s very accessible, so the fact that it touches on a once-taboo topic makes the ad an important step forward in promoting sexual diversity in Asia.”

Taiwan’s government’s Gender Equity Education Act, which was implemented in 2004, requires schools to cover topics such as gender equality and sexual orientation. But in Hong Kong, legislation against prejudice towards the LGBTI community is much further behind. There is currently no legislation at all protecting people from being discriminated against based on sexual preference. As recently as January this year, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), which conducts studies for the government, released a report advising a “careful legislative design” before implementing any legislation.

Diana Kwok, a sexual diversity expert and assistant professor at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, says Hong Kong isn’t doing enough to promote widespread acceptance for non-heterosexual inclinations. “Sure, the government puts money into the EOC [Equal Opportunities Commision], which conducts studies on LGBT issues, but at a policy level, the government needs to take the lead before we expect companies to step up.”

That hasn’t stopped corporation in Hong Kong from stepping up, just like McDonald’s in Taiwan. Multinationals such as Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Goldman Sachs and HSBC all came out in support for the LGBT community during the annual Pink Dot Hong Kong event last year. 

In addition to being a primary sponsor for Pink Dot and other pro-LGBT events, HSBC says it treats LGBT advocacy as an everyday affair, with global anti-discrimination policies and an inclusive approach to employee benefits. The bank's CEO, Stuart Gulliver, told the 2014 Out on the Street Summit that secret to success is simply recruiting the best people for the job: "Discriminating against people because of their sexuality is to discriminate against talent – and that’s just plain dumb. So it isn’t just a case of discrimination being bad for business; it’s that encouraging diversity is positively good for it." 

Watch the full ad below: