Hong Kong LGBT activist joins Democratic Party in bid to influence its stance on gender issues
Joanne Leung believes she can influence group's stance on gender issues
One of the city's most outspoken transgender women sent shock waves through the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender circle a few months ago when she showed interest in joining the Democratic Party.
Not every LGBT activist wants to foster stronger ties with political parties - unlike Joanne Leung Wing-yan.
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"I was scolded by my friends when I told them I'm interested in joining the party," said Leung, who had her official membership confirmed last week.
"Linking the LGBT movement with politics is a sensitive issue. If we don't get into politics today, we will have one fewer channel to change the status quo."
Leung worked closely with Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing last year, when they flew to Geneva to express concern over women's rights in Hong Kong to a UN panel discussing the issue. Lau later invited her to join the party.
"I once considered joining the Labour Party or People Power, but I found out that Cyd Ho Sau-lan and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen [of the two parties respectively] were already very supportive of gay rights," she said.
"Would I be able to make a bigger difference in the Democratic Party … which has more resources but has yet to formulate a clear stance on LGBT rights?"
Leung, who joined the party's committee on gender equality, said her first task was to "talk with members" and initiate more debate to facilitate understanding of LGBT issues.
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Eventually she wants to run in the district council or Legislative Council elections as she found many lawmakers who wanted to help the LGBT community had insufficient understanding on the matter.
"So I think the LGBT community's participation in politics … is essential as it could guide the parties on how to raise our demands."
Leung always wanted to change her gender since she was small. She finally decided to undergo a transgender operation in 2009 after attempting suicide four times.
Lau welcomed Leung's participation in the party and hoped she could contribute to its manifesto.