Idea of ‘re­v­erse dis­crim­i­na­tion’ by LGBT doesn’t hold wa­ter

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

The world has seen much progress in bring­ing equal­ity to LGBT peo­ple in the past cou­ple of years. The sum­mer of 2015 saw the United States Supreme Court rul­ing that gave same-sex cou­ples the right to marry na­tion­ally. Later that year, Ire­land al­lowed its first gay cou­ple to wed.

Last year Fin­land and Colom­bia fol­lowed suit and this year Taiwan’s top ju­di­cial or­gan ruled that same-sex cou­ples had the right to marry. Now in Europe, we have just seen Ger­many and even Malta, the most Ro­man Catholic coun­try on the con­ti­nent, leg­is­late to al­low LGBT cit­i­zens to tie the knot. Since the Nether­lands started the trend in 2001, 27 coun­tries and re­gions have now taken this path.

So where do we stand in “Asia’s World City”? Have we seen any progress to pro­tect our LGBT cit­i­zens and make them equal to the rest? The sad an­swer is no. Here, cer­tain sec­tors act as though it’s still OK to dis­crim­i­nate.

So in Hong Kong we still hear anti-LGBT ar­gu­ments that have been, and are be­ing, re­futed else­where, ar­gu­ments that would be laugh­able if they were not so per­ni­cious in their ef­fects upon our vul­ner­a­ble, young LGBT cit­i­zens. Here we seem not to care that dis­crim­i­na­tion and lack of pro­tec­tion dam­age the lives of some of our most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple. We are more con­cerned about pro­tect­ing the “right” to spout ha­tred for oth­ers than to help those who suf­fer vic­tim­iza­tion.

On July 12, a scant­ily at­tended seminar against same-sex mar­riage gained press cov­er­age for the speeches of its anti-LGBT or­ga­niz­ers, who wish to deny equal­ity to the 5-10 per­cent of our pop­u­la­tion whose sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity dif­fers from the ma­jor­ity. It’s sad to see such neg­a­tive views against a vul­ner­a­ble mi­nor­ity given an­other pub­lic air­ing.

Prom­i­nent among the ideas put for­ward at the seminar was the old ch­est­nut that, if it were no longer pos­si­ble to dis­crim­i­nate against gay and trans­gen­der peo­ple, those who wish to dis­crim­i­nate would some­how be dis­crim­i­nated against them­selves.

We all know that dis­crim­i­nat­ing against peo­ple hurts them; there’s re­ally no way around that. Dis­crim­i­na­tion equals hurt. If you want to dis­crim­i­nate against some peo­ple on any grounds, you have to ac­cept that they are go­ing to get hurt. So the “re­v­erse dis­crim­i­na­tion” ar­gu­ment pri­or­i­tizes the right to hurt LGBT peo­ple over pre­vent­ing the harm that dis­crim­i­na­tion causes.

In a well-or­dered so­ci­ety such as Hong Kong, where we take pride in our rule of law and our tol­er­ant and har­mo­nious cul­ture, and one might ex­pect that those who seek to hurt oth­ers would be re­garded as im­moral and their The author in 2008 was ap­pointed English sec­re­tary of the Pink Al­liance, Hong Kong’s largest group­ing of LGBT or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBT men and women, our fel­low cit­i­zens, is just plain wrong. It causes un­told per­sonal suf­fer­ing and eco­nomic loss. It harms the in­no­cent. Stop­ping dis­crim­i­na­tion pre­vents harm.

ac­tions as crim­i­nal. Yet we have no law to pre­vent harm­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBT peo­ple. We are, in ef­fect, now al­low­ing one group of our cit­i­zens to harm an­other group.

At the meet­ing of July 12, much was made of the sup­posed need to deny the right to same­sex mar­riage in or­der to main­tain “fam­ily val­ues” and the “in­sti­tu­tion of mar­riage”. Some­how, it was claimed, same-sex mar­riage would dam­age mar­riage for ev­ery­one else. No no­tice, of course, was taken of the fact that in no coun­try that has, in the past 16 years, al­lowed same-sex mar­riage has there been any ev­i­dence that this has had any ef­fect what­so­ever on het­ero­sex­ual mar­riage. This is, of course, in ac­cord with com­mon sense. No man’s mar­riage af­fects an­other. No mar­riage is valid only be­cause some­one else is pre­vented from mar­ry­ing.

Dis­crim­i­na­tion against LGBT men and women, our fel­low cit­i­zens, is just plain wrong. It causes un­told per­sonal suf­fer­ing and eco­nomic loss. It harms the in­no­cent. Stop­ping dis­crim­i­na­tion pre­vents harm. The ar­gu­ment of “re­v­erse dis­crim­i­na­tion” doesn’t hold wa­ter; it al­lows some to harm those who have no le­gal means to de­fend them­selves.

There is though, a quote in a trea­tise on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity that cut to the chase about dis­crim­i­na­tion and why tol­er­ance is the glue of so­ci­ety: “Love has no gen­der — com­pas­sion has no re­li­gion — char­ac­ter has no race.” Surely this is also in ac­cord with all main­stream re­li­gions.

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