While thousands amassed for the annual Hong Kong Pride Parade at Victoria Park on a damp Saturday afternoon, some LGBT groups boycotted the march citing concerns over the parade organizers’ refusal to give sexual minorities a platform.
Hong Kong #Pride’s purple-themed march drew more church groups and international speakers from India, Bangkok and Australia this year advocating for equal legal protection for #LGBT people. #jmscpride18 #Pride2018 pic.twitter.com/c3JQrR3cTL
— #FreePalestine (@phatimaqurashi) November 17, 2018
“Nearly all of the organizers are gay people and they don’t speak for or represent bisexual, transgender or intersex identities. They’re neglecting our rights,” Chris Yau, founder of Hong Kong’s exclusive group advocating for bisexual rights and visibility, Love Unbounded told JMSC.
The bisexual-friendly group was founded 3 years ago, but is not well known to the general public.
Sunny Leung, a volunteer for Love Unbounded expressed concern about the group experiencing difficulties in attracting more supporters at these one-off LGBT events. “The organizers didn’t allow Love Unbounded set up a booth, that was their only explanation for banning us,” said Leung.
Leung has been participating in the Pride Parade for 3 consecutive years. Like Yau, he is disappointed in the mainstream “gay movement” that apparently runs the Pride Parade for almost a decade.
“The ‘G’ of the LGBT coalition in Hong Kong controls the Parade, that is, only mentioning gay rights and alliance with straight people,” said Leung.
In 2008, Hong Kong’s first Pride theme was “Turn Fear into Love”, responding to then-regular anti-LGBT protests strongly opposing homosexuality and gay sex. Yau said the parade is sticking to the status quo and continues to target the theme of achieving equality for gay people.
“Intersex, transgender and bisexual rights are minorities within minorities,” Yau chanted, as she waved a banner that read ‘Bisexuality Beyond the Binary’ against a pink-blue-purple gradient – a symbol of bisexual pride. “Ultimately having a theme will always limit voices and narrow the scope of the movement.”
But longtime LGBT rights activist Benita Chick disagreed with a potential move to remove the theme-oriented parade.
“Rallying for an anti-discrimination law is the crux of the movement and it applies to every group that faces negligence and lack of legal protection,” Chick said, also withdrawing from the march in protest of the organizing committee’s lack of inclusivity.
“The parade organizers are uninviting of newcomers to their committee, it’s killing the spirit of LGBT pride all around Hong Kong,” Chick said.
That the Hong Kong colonial-era law criminalizing homosexuality was abolished in 1991 was raised at the parade. But more recently, for many local LGBT organizations the court ruling in favor of granting a dependency visa for a foreign lesbian partner is worth celebrating.
Chick said that the “QT case is a step in the right direction. However, it will not affect local same-sex couples who can’t enjoy equal benefits and privileges with straight people”.
According to a report by HKU’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law in 2017, over half of the Hong Kong population agreed to legalize marriage equality for same-sex couples. As the first study in Hong Kong to track progress in public opinion on LGBT rights, Yau and Leung call for a dialogue for researchers and legislators to highlight marginalized sexual minority groups as well.
“If corporate-sponsored events like the Parade can’t hear us, we have turned to lawyers and government officials for their support together with intersex and transgender civil society organizations,” Yau said.
Before the parade kicked off, Yau distributed flyers and walked up to participants around Victoria Park in an effort to “raise awareness” of sexual minority rights.
“We need to pick our battles carefully if we want to set the stage for court challenges and win,” Yau said.