Hong Kong’s schools, celebrities and religious groups need to stop the homophobia

Sophie Mak
Sophie Mak |

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LeFou isn't the problem, homophobia and prejudice are.

Conservatives are accusing Disney of trampling on traditional family values. Conservative groups in Hong Kong are upset about Disney’s first openly gay character, Beauty and the Beast’s LeFou, and have petitioned to censor and boycott the film.

When news came out that Beauty and the Beast would feature elements of homosexuality, many celebrities voiced their discontentment, saying they were reluctant to allow their children to watch the “supposedly family-oriented film which destroys family values”. They said they are afraid that their children will “acquire incorrect values” and eventually “grow up gay”.

A Christian school in Hong Kong even issued a notice to parents to boycott the movie because of the gay scenes. The notice reads: “The school has been teaching the children with the truths in the Bible to let them understand God’s purposes of creating mankind. God disapproves of homosexuality. Therefore we call on the parents not to bring them or let them watch the film.”

The Family School SODO (Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance) Concern Group – the same group that took issue with HSBC’s rainbow lions – supports the school’s actions. It says that while their group was not against “personal choices of adopting homosexuality”, it worries that there’s an increase in promotion of “gay moments” by international enterprises like Disney, and that this is destroying family values.

Celebrities and schools are both very important in shaping a child’s mind and values. Children look up to celebrities, and most of the news they read is focused on their favourite stars. Teachers, meanwhile, impart knowledge to students, who are constantly told that the authorities are always correct. Thus, their “gay-bashing” agenda is especially harmful to children.

When celebrities or teachers are alarmed or repulsed by atypical gender behaviour, children are taught to fear differences and to value conformity. The destructive message gives children the idea that homosexuality is a choice, and most of all a wrong choice. This makes it difficult for them to accept and appreciate their own and others’ uniqueness in sexual orientation, thus creating a vicious cycle of self-hatred and intolerance of others.

It’s even worse when authorities use religion as a force to ban and bully homosexuals. Conservative groups have maintained their beliefs that minority sexualities are abnormal, unnatural and even changeable. The irony is while the Catholic Church actively promotes tolerance and love for our neighbours, they also believe that “homosexuality is evil”. It is packaging bigotry and ignorance as humility, preaching intolerance in righteousness, and brewing hatred in the name of love. It gives impressionable children the idea that homosexuality does not have a place in the world, and that people who are gay should be hidden.

The religious may claim divine authority, but they cannot impose this on those who do not believe, nor does it have the right to dictate how we live. If there is a role for religion, it is to build a supportive institution that truly fosters love, tolerance and humility. It should realise nature for what it is, and not for what “God” wants it to be.

No one is born homophobic. From childhood, we all relate to love. Homosexuality is not a corruption of nature, nor is it unnatural. What is corruption of nature is homophobia, and to change that, we should all realise that love is love, it is beautiful and should be celebrated.

If Hong Kong really is a modern city, then we need to do better, and build an inclusive and progressive society that embraces diversity.

Edited by Sam Gusway