University of Hong Kong accused of trying to brainwash campus with unisex, LGBT-friendly toilets

Parental groups say rainbow logo of three figures hand in hand conflicts with city’s mainstream values

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 September, 2016, 10:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 11:07am

Parental groups dedicated to family values are waging a war against the University of Hong Kong’s new all-gender washrooms tagged with rainbow logos, accusing it of using public money to promote propaganda for sexual minorities.

The university’s first unisex toilets, located on the rooftop of its Main Building at the Centre of Development and Resources for Students, court controversy as the logos show three figures hand in hand in rainbow colours transitioning from a male to a female symbol. The rainbow colours are commonly regarded as the symbol of a mixed LGBT community.

We think that it is inappropriate for it to use public money to promote such a controversial concept in our society
Family campaigner Roger Wong Wai-ming

Roger Wong Wai-ming, convenor of the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, said some parents had already complained to the university about the posting of the rainbow logos, which they said would brainwash everyone on campus with LGBT values.

“Actually we are not against the unisex toilets but we oppose those rainbow logos. We fear that HKU would want to advocate LGBT values, which are against the mainstream values of the Hong Kong community,” he explained.

Wong argued that the use of the rainbow logo blurred the line between the sexes by suggesting the existence of a third sex, thereby challenging mainstream views on gender, morality and sexuality.

“HKU is a government-funded university. We think that it is inappropriate for it to use public money to promote such a controversial concept in our society,” he said, adding that they would step up their campaign against the labelled toilets, including protests and petitions, if HKU refused to remove the logos.

“With HKU setting the precedent, we are really afraid that other schools, including primary and secondary schools, and also government institutions may follow suit by introducing such unisex toilets everywhere and promoting their values. Do we want this to happen?” he asked.

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An HKU spokesperson said the all-gender toilets provided “a gender-free option for those who feel pressure when using segregated toilets”.

“The move is consistent with the university’s effort in nurturing an inclusive culture on campus,” she said. “For gender-variant people and others who identify or are perceived to be outside the gender binary, gender-neutral toilets can eliminate inconvenience for people who may be perceived to be in the ‘wrong’ toilet.”

In the US and Canada, all-gender bathrooms are being adopted increasingly by businesses and educational institutions as awareness grows about the transgender community. But there is opposition. Critics say men could enter women’s toilets by calling themselves transgender, putting women and children at risk.

HKU is not the first to take such a step. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology installed gender-neutral toilets at its student hall in 2004, but without the labels for three sexes.

On the HKU campus there were mixed views about the new facilities.

“I think it would be better if the toilets were separate,” a faculty staff member who refused to give his name said.

Adam Ng, 18, said: “This toilet would be for LGBT people, not for me. But I think it is good.”

Harry Leung, 17, thought it was a good move – to an extent. “I approve of the unisex toilet, but I think it would be understandable if some people felt uncomfortable using it,” he said. “It would feel strange to go into a toilet with someone of another gender there.”

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Jennifer Dan, 19, who has recently arrived from Malaysia, said: “For me, I think it’s OK to set up a unisex toilet. If you ask me whether I would use it – I probably wouldn’t. Maybe we can get used to the idea of unisex toilets, but right now I definitely wouldn’t feel safe in a toilet with another man. That’s human nature.”

Essence Tsang, 18, had no doubts. “I approve of the toilet. I think most people here do. People accept LGBT people in HKU and do not discriminate against them. Some of my friends are LGBT.”