Weather rains on Hong Kong Pride parade but marchers’ call for equality legislation is undimmed
- Focus of the march was call for equal-rights law and gender-neutral facilities
- Present at the parade were LGBT-friendly religious organisations, but also groups opposed to legislation
Despite less than favourable weather, thousands of marchers, decked out in colourful outfits, took to the streets on Saturday for the annual Hong Kong Pride Parade, with the focus being a call for equality legislation and gender-neutral facilities in the city.
The marchers gathered at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay before heading off at 3pm for Edinburgh Place in Central. Organisers put the attendance at 12,000, while police estimates were around 4,300. The march was followed by a religious service offered by Blessed Ministry Community Church and Covenant of the Rainbow, a coalition of LGBT-friendly Hong Kong religious organisations.
With the chosen theme for this year, “Call for the Law, Equality for All”, marchers continued their years-long call for legislation against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and also for more gender-neutral facilities, such as toilets and changing rooms for transgender people. The march this year celebrates its 10th anniversary.
Event organisers had earlier said they expected the record turnout, up from 10,000 in 2017, fuelled by a coming referendum in Taiwan on amending its civil law to allow same-sex marriages.
On the numbers this year, parade spokesman Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit said: “We can see a growing number of people joining the parades, and this is in line with an earlier University of Hong Kong survey which showed that a larger proportion of Hongkongers support equality for LGBTs.”
He said he hoped the government would include gender-neutral facilities in future designs for the city.
In Taiwan, a series of public votes are due on November 24 after the self-ruled island’s constitutional court declared in May last year that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, setting a two-year deadline for legalisation. It was the first such ruling in Asia.
This year’s parade comes on the heels of a landmark decision in July by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal to grant same-sex partners spousal visas previously available only to heterosexual couples.
Hong Kong does not currently recognise same-sex marriages and does not have any legislation against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Anson Liu, 29, a local member of the LGBT community, said: “We have come today to express the difficulties facing us all along. And to call for equality and human rights that we deserve.
“My most urgent call is for legislation against sexual orientation discrimination, to protect us against all sorts of unfair treatment in the working environment and elsewhere.”
This is the fourth time Liu has joined the parade.
As on previous occasions, the parade also attracted marchers from outside the city.
Momo Yuan, 29, an activist from Guangzhou said she was exploring her sexual orientation and came to the city on Saturday just for the event.
“Inequality against the LGBT community is not just a regional issue but a global one. The equal rights LGBT movement is not just a movement for them. It will also shape how society sees equality issues.”
Also present at the march were religious groups opposed to pro-LGBT legislation.
Roger Wong Wai-ming, convenor of the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, said he disapproved of legalising same-sex marriage, which, he believes, would violate human rights, including freedom in education.
“It will force society to accept homosexual relations. And it will limit parent’s rights to teach their children,” he said.
Before the march, the world’s first openly gay prince, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil from India, was among a list of guests giving their support to the local LGBT community in speeches.
Attendees also included several Hong Kong legislators and the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Alfred Chan Cheung-ming, as well as more than 10 diplomats from countries including the United States, Britain and France.
Chan said before the march that he was happy to see slow but good progress made by the LGBT community, and urged the government to move forward on the issue concerning basic human rights.
The Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said the government was committed to promoting equal opportunities for people of different sexual orientations and transgenders on the basis of upholding the existing institution of marriage. This would be based on fostering inclusiveness, mutual respect and non-discrimination in the community.
As was the case last year, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen declined invitations to attend the event.