Hong Kong’s thinking pink. Are you on board?
It’s here! Sunday, September 25 marks the third edition of Pink Dot HK, a celebration of diversity in support of LGBTI communities in Hong Kong and all over the world. This year’s theme, “Love Wins,” is a reminder that in the end, love really can conquer all. We take a look at other places around the world where, despite often enormous odds, love is winning. By David Vetter, Xavier Ng and Adam White. Illustrations by Kay Leung
Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997. Since then, the People’s Republic has seen gradual progress towards a wider acceptance of LGBTI issues, though more in the social arena than the legal. This year, 27-year-old Meng Fanyu was voted the first ever Mr Gay China in the first successful iteration of the competition in the country. A survey suggests that of the 27 million users of Blued, China’s largest gay dating app, less than 5 percent are out.
Q: What are the main challenges of being gay in Chinese society?
A: I would say the biggest difficulty in the region would be the uneven protection across China for the rights of LGBTI people, which are part of the human rights of every Chinese citizen. Hong Kong and Taiwan fare a bit better in terms of equal protection under the law. However, there are still lapses. Hong Kong still lacks legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity.
— Raymond “Slow Beat” Chan, Hong Kong’s first and only gay legislator
The Himalayan nation is now considered a world leader in its approach to LGBTI issues. The abolition of the monarchy in 2007 paved the way for new laws that legalized homosexuality. Nepal took another leap forward in 2015, with the introduction of a constitution that, among other things, enshrines in law the right of Nepalis to display their preferred gender on their identity cards, as well as provisions against discrimination on grounds of gender or sexual orientation. Nepal is also the home of Sunil Babu Pant, who in 2008 became the first openly gay member of parliament in Asia, serving until 2012.
Q: What’s the next step for trans acceptance in Hong Kong?
A: Our next step should be to review the criteria of gender recognition laws. Trans people who desire different degrees of bodily modification should be treated equally. I also hope that gender boxes will not be a requirement to understand a person. Everyone, no matter how they identify themselves, should be treated equally—just as humans.
— Siufung Law, genderqueer bodybuilder and advocate
While Vietnam lacks strong anti-discrimination legislation, the country has taken notable strides in the direction of equality. It lifted a ban on same-sex marriage in 2015, though not granting the same legal protections given to heterosexual couples. Also in 2015, Vietnam adopted new laws enshrining the rights of transgender people. In June this year, Vietnam was one of seven Asian countries that voted in support of a UN resolution on the protection of LGBTI individuals.
Q: What are your hopes for trans rights in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia? A: Anti-discrimation and gender recognition legislation, as well as marriage equality, are the top priorities for trans rights in Hong Kong and in Southeast Asia. And yet I hope that discrimination can be eliminated through more understanding, rather than legislation.
— Joanne Leung, Chairperson, Transgender Resource Center