By Dallas Sanders.

A year ago he did not want to hold my hand. I would reach out to touch his and he would withdraw it. He did not want to show any signs of affection. He was shy and still is a bit. This year in a sea of pink shirts he would hold my hand for a short while, but not long. A year ago I knew a lot of people and he knew none. This year he knew a few more and he wanted to meet them. Much has changed from last year’s Pink Dot.

The Pink Dot is a carnival-esque event filled held by friends of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex community. It is a way to show support for the community’s quest for diversity, inclusiveness and the freedom to love. It began in Singapore. Hong Kong held its first Pink Dot in June 15, 2014 when 12,000 showed up. This year more than 15,500 people had appeared by 6pm on Sunday night, with more turning up at Tamar for the music performance in the evening.

Photo: Pink Dot.

Since the last Pink Dot the United States and Ireland have joined 18 other countries in recognising same-sex marriage. Caitlyn Jenner and the Netflix programme “Orange Is The New Black have raised awareness of transgender issues. Hong Kong is not keeping up with the rest of the world; rather, its development is merely a result of the push it receives both from outside and within, and often through legal processes.

The outside push is inescapable because of Hong Kong’s need to attract the most talented workers. Some of them may be from the LGBTI community, and corporations understand this. Most of the shirts at today’s Pink Dot bore the names of HSBC, JP Morgan, Goldman Sacks, Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank, Google, and the list goes on. Cities like Beijing have long been providing spousal visas to LGBTI couples to attract talent, but Hong Kong has failed to implement similar policies.

Booths at Pink Dot. Photo: Ivy Wong via Facebook.

A woman is suing the Immigration Department to win the right to stay in Hong Kong with her wife. QT and SS, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, married in England and then moved to Hong Kong in 2011 after SS was offered a job. QT applied for a spousal visa allowing her to live and work in Hong Kong but was denied. The couple sued the department on the grounds that their marriage should be treated like any other marriage. The Registrar of the High Court has given notice that the judgment in the case will be handed down at the end of this November. It would have been easier if QT and SS moved to Beijing or somewhere else rather than coming here.

The love arch at Pink Dot. Photo: Pink Dot.

There will be more court cases to force the government to recognise the notion of equality enshrined in Basic Law. Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, the chairperson of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), is right in explaining how Hongkongers must not bury the debate on same-sex marriage. “To Hong Kong, same-sex marriage is an inescapable issue,” he said in June.

I cannot see a day where I will be walking down the street holding my love’s hand, mostly because he is too shy. However, I can see a day when I will have the chance to marry him and have the same rights as straight couples.

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.