Hong Kong: It's about time we have LGBT laws

Lilian Ma

Many cite culture and religion as reasons for their opposition to LGBT rights

Lilian Ma |

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A recent report released by the Equal Opportunities Commission showed that more than half (55.7 per cent) of the respondents were in favour of introducing legislation to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or “intersex status”.

The figure has nearly doubled from a decade ago, indicating that public opinion has changed significantly in recent years. Among respondents aged 18 to 24 years, 91.8 per cent supported such legislation, along with nearly half of those with religious views.

The shift in opinion is hardly surprising. Modern Family, a popular American TV show, led the way, featuring gay couples living a loving, normal relationship. Viewers saw them getting married, and handling parenthood.

Media isn’t the only driving force behind changing perceptions. There are anti-discrimination laws in Taiwan, Macau, Canada and many other places to protect people with different sexual orientations.

Most notably, the landmark Supreme Court case in the United States brought same-sex marriage to the forefront, with Facebook offering users the option to change their profile pictures with a rainbow filter, the universal symbol of the gay rights movement.

Yet there is still resistance. Many cite culture and religion as reasons for their opposition to LGBT rights. Notably, the Catholic Church has repeatedly stressed that marriage is “the loving union between a man and a woman”, even though there have been increasing calls within the church to accept same-sex marriages.

It will take time for the other 44 per cent of Hongkongers to fully come around and accept the situation. However, it’s high time Hong Kong passed an anti-discrimination bill on the LGBT issue.