Hong Kong’s LGBTQ policies were at the centre of a heated debate at a public forum on Sunday, with one anti-gay politician falsely claiming that same-sex marriage “encouraged” LGBTQ lifestyles. The debate followed last week’s Court of Final Appeal’s ruling which stated that spousal visas should be granted to same-sex couples in civil unions.

At RTHK’s weekly City Forum, politicians and activists were invited to discuss the “QT” case and its effect on local LGBTQ rights. Speakers included Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker Ray Chan, as well as Dominic Lee, a Liberal Party member and the spokesperson for Ban Gay Marriage Hong Kong.

Liberal Party District Councillor Dominic Lee Tsz-king. Photo: RTHK screenshot.
Liberal Party District Councillor Dominic Lee Tsz-king. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Last Wednesday Hong Kong’s highest court ruled unanimously that the differential treatment towards lesbian expat QT – namely denying her a spousal visa when her wife came to Hong Kong for work – amounted to unlawful discrimination.

Lee said that the court affirmed the status of civil unions that were solemnised overseas and widened the legal definition of a “dependant.” The overall effect was to create an opening for legalising same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, he said.

See also: ‘A clear message’: LGBTQ community elated over ‘milestone judgment’ from Hong Kong’s top court

“If [the courts] recognise the status of same-sex couples, that will grant them rights in Hong Kong such as the right to education. That coerces the government, as well as taxpayers who don’t accept same-sex marriage, to recognise their relationship,” Lee said.

People Power legislator Ray Chan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.
People Power legislator Ray Chan. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Lee also claimed that civil unions and gay marriage will “encourage” people to adopt LGBTQ lifestyles.

“There are statistics, in the US – the top 10 states with greatest proportion of [people who are] LGBTQ are also states where same-sex marriage was legal for the longest. In the UK, some places after they legalised same-sex marriage, there is an increase in number… of people who say they are LGBTQ,” Lee claimed.

There is no evidence of a link between the number of homosexual people in a society and the legality of equal marriage.

Equal status

Chan said the judgment was not about forcing people to accept same-sex couples, but instead only established their equal status before the law.

He also thanked QT for advancing the cause of local LGBTQ rights and said he expected more lawsuits of a similar nature.

“The judgment is quite narrow… but the case is significant because the court said for the first time that same-sex couples can have rights equal to that of heterosexual couples,” he said.

QT. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Other speakers at the forum included Henry Li from the Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Network, and Kwan Kai-man, chairperson of the Christian organisation Hong Kong Sex Culture Society Limited.

‘Unfair allocation of time’

Lee complained during the programme that its host So King-hang was biased towards pro-LGBTQ attendees by giving them more airtime. The City Forum is a live broadcast of a roundtable discussion held at Victoria Park, and the host allocates time for audience members to speak.

Lee said So picked six to eight pro-LGBTQ attendees but only four to five anti-LGBTQ ones. So denied Lee’s claims and asked him to check the video recording.

Host of RTHK programme City Forum So King-hang. Photo: RTHK screenshot.
Host of RTHK programme City Forum So King-hang. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

After the show concluded, reporters captured footage of Lee and So having a shouting match outside the venue. Later on Sunday, Lee criticised So on Facebook, claiming he misrepresented public opinion: “It created… an illusion to television audiences that society is overwhelmingly in favour of same-sex marriage.”

YouTube video

An HKU study published earlier this month showed that 50.4 per cent of respondents supported same-sex marriage.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.