Legalise same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, Canadian envoy says

Jeff Nankivell suggests city can project itself as one that welcomes diversity, attracting more global talent

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 September, 2017, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 6:54pm

Canada’s top diplomat in Hong Kong has thrown his support behind legalising same-sex marriage in the city, saying the local government can play a role in protecting people from discrimination.

Consul general Jeff Nankivell said that if same-sex marriages were recognised in Hong Kong, it would signal to the international community that the city welcomed a diverse group of people, enabling access to a larger pool of global talent.

His remarks came during an interview with the Post that is to be published on Monday.

“We consider recognition of same-sex marriage to be a measure against discrimination,” he said, citing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We encourage governments all over the world to come to the same view that this is as much of a fundamental human right as any other. More governments are taking this kind of position.”

In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first outside Europe to legalise same-sex marriage. According to statistics last year, among the 72,880 same-sex couples in Canada, 24,370 were married.

Nankivell said that no one wanted to see young people bullied because of the way they felt and whom they loved.

The diplomat made it clear Canada did not mean to “lecture” Hong Kong and instead wanted to share its experience on how the recognition of same-sex marriage could work in practical terms.

He stressed it was important to have discussions with people of different beliefs to build understanding. As more people talked about the subject in Canada, the result was a shift in public opinion.

“There are still some people in Canada who are not happy about it,” he said, adding that with more awareness, fears of the unknown would be greatly reduced.

Has the time come for Hong Kong to legalise same-sex marriage?

“The more Hong Kong can do to send a message to people all over the world that it welcomes diversity, the better it is for Hong Kong ultimately.”

Separately, Brian Leung Siu-fai, chief campaigner of local gay rights group Big Love Alliance, questioned why Hong Kong could not recognise same-sex marriage while Taiwan did so.

“In the past, this was considered a Western value. But Taiwan’s court ruled in favour of gay marriage in May,” he said. “Why can’t Hong Kong do the same, as an international city?”

Leung said over the years the public had become increasingly accepting of homosexuality. He criticised local officials for not taking action in line with public views.

Before she was elected chief executive in March, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would not rule out consultation on gay marriages, but a spokesman said later: “Mrs Lam has no intention to push for same-sex marriages.”