Hong Kong: Support for same-sex marriage rises to new all-time high

People marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia in Hong Kong in 2019

Support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high in Hong Kong, with 60 per cent of people now thinking the law should be changed.

A study of 1,551 people found that just 17 per cent of those surveyed disagree with same-sex marriage, while 23 per cent said they were neutral on the topic.

That represents a radical shift from a similar survey a decade ago.

In 2013, researchers found that just 38 per cent of the public in Hong Kong supported same-sex marriage.

That number jumped to 50.4 per cent in a 2017 survey, but the latest research will give renewed hope to the region’s LGBTQ+ community.

The new report was jointly issued by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong (UHK), the Sexualities Research Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Human Rights Law Program at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Law.

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Hong Kong, strained by anti-LGBT policies, saw leap towards progress after courts ruled gay couples should have access to public housing programmes. (Edward Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)
An LGBTQ+ demonstration in Hong Kong. (Edward Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty)

The report is the latest in a long-running study which is designed to track public opinion on same-sex marriage in the former British colony.

Broad support for LGBTQ+ rights in Hong Kong

The latest survey also found a marked increase in support for gay men and lesbians more broadly, with 71 per cent of people saying there should be a law to protect against sexual-orientation discrimination – up from 69 per cent in 2017 and 58 per cent in 2013.

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Just six per cent of those surveyed disagreed with the idea of protections.

More good news was also revealed: there has been a massive drop in the number of people who are openly unaccepting of gay men and lesbians. In 2013, 32 per cent of people said they did not accept homosexual men and women compared with just 13 per cent today.

“Our study shows that support for the rights of same-sex couples has grown quite considerably in the [past] decade,” said Holning Lau, a professor at UNC, who led the research alongside the UHK’s Kelley Loper, and Yiu-Tung Suen from the CUHK.

“The increase in support for same-sex marriage and the decrease in opposition to sexual-orientation discrimination legislation are particularly striking,” Lau added.

“A lot has changed over the past ten years. Hong Kong courts have made headlines with rulings that protect same-sex couples. The list of jurisdictions around the world that have legalised same-sex marriage has grown rapidly. Representation of lesbians and gay men in local and global media has also grown.

“These are some of the factors that formed the backdrop to the shifts in public opinion that we found in our research.”

The report was released to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, which is observed each year on 17 May.

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