Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific rolled out a new promotional campaign this week – though one ad, in particular, stole the spotlight.

Netizens have posted photos of a Cathay billboard showing two men holding hands and walking along a sandy beach, with the slogan “Move Beyond Labels.” It was part of the airline’s branding refresh unveiled on Thursday, entitled “Move Beyond.”

Photo: Facebook.

“Is this true? Bold and timely for Hong Kong, Taiwan, and beyond,” lawmaker Ray Chan wrote on Twitter. Chan is the first openly gay member of Hong Kong’s legislature.

The airline told HKFP that it embraces diversity and inclusion. “It is our goal to continue to make the Cathay Pacific Group a place where everybody can be themselves at work and so everyone can give their best,” a spokesperson said.

Cathay Pacific was also a corporate sponsor for the Hong Kong team bidding to host the Gay Games 2022, which went on to win the bid in 2017.

The flagship airline, which was embroiled in a data leak scandal last year and previously suffered management shakeups, said that the campaign was to mark the “start of a new journey.”

However, the ad also drew the attention of the Family School SODO Concern Group, one of Hong Kong’s most vocal anti-gay bodies. It said in a Facebook post that it was disappointed in the airline and would stop using its services.

Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community is looking to advance equal rights in court this year, with multiple pending cases involving spousal rights and benefits.

Neighbouring Taiwan is coming up on a legislative deadline for same-sex marriage, which the constitutional court ruled in favour of in 2017. The parliament is expected to vote on the issue later this month.

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Holmes Chan

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.