Hong Kong’s anti-gay advocates have warned that laws to protect sexual minorities will lead to “reverse discrimination” and threaten freedom of speech and religion.

The remarks were made Monday at a legislative seminar against same-sex marriage. The talk – organised by the pro-Beijing DAB party and attended by around 20 people – was chaired by DAB lawmaker and member of the Equal Opportunities Commission Holden Chow.

same sex marriage seminar
The legislative seminar. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“Laws against discrimination on sexual orientation grounds would lead to reverse discrimination,” said Helen Fu of the Society For Truth And Light, a group outspoken against equal rights for LGBT people.

Fu cited overseas examples whereby people were fined or demoted after refusing to provide services for same-sex couples or making anti-LGBT remarks on social media.

See also: Hong Kong anti-gay advocates claim same-sex marriage will lead to human trafficking, abortions, incest

“Once this law is in place, we would no longer have the right to oppose LGBT people. Do we want Hong Kong’s freedom of speech to shrink?” she said.

‘Privilege, not right’

The Equal Opportunities Commission has urged the government to consult the public on legislating against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The idea aims at protecting sexual minorities, rather than pushing for equal marriage.

But Fu said LGBT advocates are uncompromising over both goals. She then said marriage – being “a privilege, not a right” – is about ensuring children will be raised by their biological parents.

Helen Fu (R). Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“We need to stand up for the most powerless, namely babies and children. Ideally, they should be raised by their mothers and fathers,” she said.

“For example, daughters can learn from their mothers about how to be a woman, and from their fathers on how to interact with the opposite sex. Protecting children is the most important task for humanity.”

Holden Chow told HKFP that opposing same-sex marriage is not discrimination against gay people, because “marriage is not just a right but more importantly a system.”

“Changes to the [marriage] system will affect other systems, such as social welfare. We have said this many times, we are not discriminating against anyone,” he said. “We oppose same-sex marriage simply because we want to protect our existing social system.”

holden chow
Holden Chow at a protest against same-sex marriage. File Photo: Holden Chow, via Facebook.

Chow claimed additional public money may be spent if gay marriage is legalised, though he said his party has yet to conduct a study on the matter.

Family stability

Meanwhile, Howard Lai, ex-civil servant and chair of the Parents for the Family Association, said same-sex marriage will add to pressure already faced by families, such as youth addiction to mobile phones, parents’ heavy workload and a competitive economy.

He said family stability is also threatened by “extreme individualism,” citing examples of “immoral behaviour” such as swinging and cohabitation.

“When families already face so much pressure, legalising same-sex marriage would threaten and violate the freedoms of speech, conscience and religion,” he said.

no same sex marraige seminar
(R to L) DAB district councillor Jacqueline Chung, DAB’s Vincent Cheng, DAB lawmaker Holden Chow, Howard Lai and DAB leader Starry Lee. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“It would also lead to demoralisation and de-gendering” he said. “De-gendering is the worst kind of impact. Sex comes naturally – our DNA decides our biological sex, it is not an option. Some people fantasise about getting rid of it, but it is impossible.”

In the long run, Lai said, children would become confused about the “natural order” of the household, be less likely to feel a sense of belonging with their family, and would grow distant from the older generation.

“Marriage is a system. [Opposite-sex] marriage will have to compete with same-sex marriage if you change the system. It will be weakened and marginalised,” he said.

In response, social justice activist Billy Leung told HKFP: “Ultimately, LGBTI people want to be treated equally with the same rights as everyone else. No more, no less.”

billy leung
Billy Leung. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

“Those who purport ‘reverse discrimination’ in essence worry they can no longer target a marginalised minority and continue with their discriminatory behaviours against them.”

He also questioned why opponents of gender equality appear to have ignored the fact that defendants in recent court cases of bestiality and incest have been in different-sex marriages and had “nothing to do with LGBTI people.”

During the seminar, two other speakers said that gay marriage would lead to human trafficking, more abortions and the decriminalisation of incest. However, there is no evidence to back the claims and pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan dismissed them as “unfounded.”

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) is the city’s largest political party and has been campaigning against gay marriage in favour of “traditional family values.”

support hkfp

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.