Hong Kong lawmakers have objected to government facilitation of the organisation of Gay Games Hong Kong (GGHK), which was set to be held in the city next year.

Pro-establishment lawmakers Priscilla Leung and Junius Ho said on Wednesday that the government should not help the organiser of GGHK in securing venues for the games’ sporting events.

Junius Ho. Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

Hong Kong will be the first city in Asia to host the Gay Games in November next year. The organiser estimates that over 12,000 people will take part in the Games, bringing HK$1 billion worth of revenue to the city.

Ho said that the residents he represents oppose same-sex marriage, but he “respects one’s sexual orientation.”

“It is your business what you do in your own room, but if you go out and do it in public, it’s disgraceful,” said Ho.

“The point is simple, the officials should not get involved in this, it’s the civil society’s business if they want to do it, it’s wrong [for the government] to throw money into this, and I don’t want to earn this type of dirty money, it doesn’t matter if we earn the HK$1 billion.”

Meanwhile, Leung claimed that the Gay Games would attract “the opposing voice” and divide society. The lawmaker added that the government should remain neutral in the organisation of the games: “The public support for the government is already low enough, if the government supports such controversial events, I believe the majority of Hong Kong society will protect the heterosexual marriage system.”

In fact, a 2018 study showed that most Hongkongers support same-sex marriage. By last year, opposition to LGBT+ rights had reached a record low – 60 per cent of survey respondents said they agreed or very much agreed that there should be legal safeguards against discrimination based on sexual orientation in Hong Kong.

Priscilla Leung. Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

The comments came after lawmaker Regina Ip asked the government if and how they could facilitate the organisers in booking venues, and whether the administration would encourage local national sports associations to participate in the Gay Games.

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui said that GGHK could reserve Leisure and Cultural Services Department venues as per rules set for registered organisations in Hong Kong.

Tsui added that if the organiser could get national sports associations to co-organise the event, they would reserve venues 12 months in advance, as opposed to the current time of up to six months for non-peak timeslots.

‘Out of touch’

The organiser of Gay Games Hong Kong told HKFP that they were “saddened to hear the comments from several counsellors at today’s LegCo,” but they respect different views.

“GGHK is all about bringing people together through sports, arts and culture. What Hong Kong needs more than ever is unity and diversity and this is exactly at the core of everything we do,” the organiser said.

Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2022. Photo: Gay Games Hong Kong, via website screenshot.

“Aside from bringing economic benefits to HK with participants and spectators flying in from other countries, GGHK will help demonstrate HK as a place that respects diversity and equality.”

Local LGBT+ activist and Director of the Hong Kong Pride Parade Wylie Yeo slammed the lawmakers’ comments, and told HKFP that the comments showed that the legislators were “out of touch.”

“The civil society is really supportive, citizens really support LGBT,” said Yeo. “We have never had so many businesses supporting Pride Month as this year… it’s just the people remaining in the Legislative Council who are out of touch… they are the ones dividing Hong Kong.”

“The situation now is that because they have turned and twisted the LegCo election system into entirely ‘one country, one system,’ homophobic garbage like them are the only ones remaining in the LegCo.”

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.