Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gay-Pride Parade in Hong Kong

Monday, 2 November 2009.

1800 take to Hong Kong’s streets to highlight the struggle for equality and LGBT rights

Chen Lizhi,

Hong Kong’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people) community took over the streets of central Hong Kong Island in a loud, spectacular and overwhelmingly youthful Pride parade on Sunday 1 November. Organisers announced to cheers from the crowds in Chater Garden that around 1,800 had joined this year’s parade – almost double last year’s tally. This was the only the second ever Pride parade and the increased participation is therefore a great encouragement and sign of rising self-confidence for LGBT people in Hong Kong and China.

The parade drew participants from mainland Chinese regions including Beijing, Guangzhou, Guizhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Sichuan, as well as from Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. The participation from mainland China was very significant as Amnesty International in Hong Kong pointed out: “In mainland China, it’s impossible to have a gay-pride march, so this is a very important day that has attracted many people to Hong Kong.”

Pride’s director Connie Chan Man-wai said the event gave the gay community the opportunity to express themselves with pride. The parade was a carnival of colour and song, but also put across a serious message of “anger at the city’s homophobic laws and attitudes,” as The Standard newspaper commented. Hong Kong is at first appearances a tolerant cosmopolitan city, but Christian right groups are an influential force here with their reactionary views on the family, women, and homosexuality. Massive pressure needs to be exerted on the political establishment to shift them from current policies. There is still no anti-discrimination law in Hong Kong and same-sex partnership or marriage is vigorously opposed by right-wing religious lobby groups.

The city’s political establishment was noticeable for its absence from HK Pride. “The government always says how much it values equal rights but no official showed up today,” said Chan. The exception was the League of Social Democrats (LSD) and its chairperson Wong Yuk Man, who was joined by a sizeable contingent of LSD members and supporters. The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) also took part and produced a pamphlet ‘Pride, solidarity and socialism’ on global LGBT struggle especially for this event. A PDF version of the pamphlet can be downloaded here.

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