HUMAN RIGHTS

Hong Kong's gay rights parade takes umbrella as its symbol

Pride march adopts Occupy protesters' icon - but organisers say decision was taken before pro-democracy campaign got under way

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 October, 2014, 4:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 12:44pm

The humble umbrella is a major symbol for an annual gay rights march this year, just as it has come to signify the Occupy Central movement's struggle for a more democratic Hong Kong.

The Cantonese word for putting up an umbrella sounds similar to "support", in line with the Chinese-language slogan for the Pride Parade 2014, which translates as "Supporting For Sure".

March organisers described the sharing of the symbol as "a beautiful coincidence" as they had ordered 500 six-coloured rainbow umbrellas in early August, more than a month before the Occupy protests began.

"We support civil society, and we hope it can support us in return, too," parade spokeswoman Wei Siu-lik said.

"Mutual support is very important to Hongkongers now. We hope the rainbow umbrella will remind people to support us."

For Occupy participants, the umbrella doubles as a tool to fend off tear gas and has become a symbol of resistance.

And for parade organisers, it will be one of their official souvenirs, to be sold at HK$98 each.

The Rainbow Ambassadors for this year's event are Equal Opportunities Commission chairperson Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan and singer Denise Ho Wan-see.

Cyd Ho, a strong supporter of gay rights, said the struggle of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was similar to that of democracy advocates.

"It is about how, under the condition of mutual respect and understanding, the minority can persuade the majority," she said.

The commission under Chow has started a three-month public consultation in July to explore the possibility of extending legislation to protect, among others, unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples.

He expressed hope that equal protection could be extended to LGBT people.

"We hope to protect sexual minorities through certain laws and regulations so they will be free of all forms of discrimination," Chow said.

Besides the consultation, the commission has assigned Chinese University to identify and study discrimination faced by LGBT groups. The research is half done and a report is expected to be submitted to the government around May.

Denise Ho urged people to put aside their differences and fight for rights for everyone.

"We should not differentiate between homosexuals and heterosexuals. We are Hongkongers, a value that everyone should embrace," Ho said. "If everyone can put aside their individual interests and think of others, it will be easier for homosexuals to fight for equality."

The parade has adopted orange as its colour this year, echoing the phrase "queer as a clockwork orange". Participants will gather at Victoria Park at 2pm on November 8 and march to Tamar Park in Admiralty.