Thousands march for LGBT equality in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Pride

Thousands have marched for LGBT+ equality in Hong Kong.

More than 10,000 people took to the streets of the city for its ninth annual Pride parade.


The theme for this year’s Pride was ‘Turn the tide, walk with Pride – discrimination says goodbye’.

A giant rainbow flag was carried from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to Edinburgh Place in Central.


The city last month became the first Asian city to be chosen to host the Gay Games.


The territory was chosen for the 2022 event over competing bids from Washington DC and Guadalajara, in Mexico, by the Federation of Gay Games.

This is despite the autonomous region being controlled by China, which has a terrible LGBT rights record.
Chinese authorities announced a ban on gay online content earlier this year.

People dance as they attend a 'Pink Dot' event in Hong Kong on September 20, 2015. The LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual and intersex) event in its second year celebrated diversity under the theme "Love Is Love" and attracted some 15,000 visitors. AFP PHOTO / DALE DE LA REY (Photo credit should read DALE de la REY/AFP/Getty Images)


And in May, an LGBT conference in the country was cancelled after police detained nine LGBT activists and told them LGBT events were not welcome in their city.

The Gay Games decision, announced yesterday in Paris, produced an ecstatic reaction from Hong Kong’s 13-member bid team, with screaming, hugging and cheering greeting the news.

HONG KONG, CHINA: Matt Pearce (L) and Adrian Smith (R) wearing wedding dresses and holding placards run along with thousands of participants in the 10km Men's Open race of Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2005 in Tsim Tsa Tsui district of Hong Kong, 27 February 2005. Matt and Adrian joined the marathon as a running demonstration calling on the government to allow same-sex-marriage. "We chose the marathon because it is a middle class family event and it's that class of people who are preventing gays the right to marry," said Matt Pearce, protest co-ordinator and spokesman for activist group International Action. Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Hong Kong in 1991 and the age of consent for gays is 21 even though for heterosexuals it is 16. Gay marriage is still banned. Gay and lesbian groups say authorities have hardened their opposition since rule of Hong Kong was transferred in 1997 to China, where homosexuality, though lawful, is stigmatised. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)


Bid chair Dennis Philipse told the South China Morning Post that he was “proud” of the result.

“We fought tirelessly and are elated to bring the games to Asia for the first time. Thank you all for your love and support,” he added.

The win reflects recent progress made in the formerly British territory.

Last month, a British lesbian who was not allowed to work and had to leave her wife every six months won legal recognition of their union from Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal.

People march in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015.  Hong Kong's streets were coloured by rainbow flags as protesters marched in the city's annual gay pride parade to call for equality and same-sex marriage.   AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE        (Photo credit should read Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images)


And less than two weeks before that, the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood was lifted.

Men are now able to give blood as long as they have not had sex with another man in the past 12 months.

However, same-sex marriage is not legal in the region, and anti-discrimination laws are lacking too.

In July, the territory’s equality watchdog said he felt he “could do better” in protecting LGBT and ethnic minorities.

Rally participants take part in a gay and lesbian rally through the streets in Hong Kong on December 13, 2008. Hundreds marched to promote the rights of the gay and lesbian community in the territory. AFP PHOTO/CHEUNG KA CHUN (Photo credit should read CHEUNG KA CHUN/AFP/Getty Images)


And the government’s tepid response to the Gay Games announcement – not condemnatory, but certainly not enthusiastic – spoke volumes.

It told Reuters that it “notes” the decision.

HONG KONG, CHINA: Gay activists wearing masks attend a gathering and march in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong, 16 May 2005. Some 350 people from various backgrounds gathered 16 May to raise public awareness for the first time on homophobia and promote diversity. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)


The government added that it was “committed to promoting equal opportunities and fostering in the community the culture and values of inclusiveness and mutual respect.”

Hong Kong’s bid team expected the Gay Games, an event first held in 1982, to attract more athletes to Hong Kong than the 15,000 participants expected for next year’s Games in Paris.

hong kong pride parade


The team also predicted a HK$1 billion (around £100 million) boost to the economy.

Alfred Chan, chairman of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission, called the move “a big step forward for Hong Kong itself to be able to win this world game.

“It is also a big step for diversity inclusion,” Chan added.