Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said she “does not condone” divisive comments made by lawmakers in the legislature last week when they described the city’s 2022 Gay Games (GGHK) as “disgraceful.”
“Our position on the Gay Games is we understand the purpose of these games is to promote inclusiveness and diversity, so we have no problem with that sort of spirit and purpose,” the chief executive told the press on Tuesday.
Several pro-Beijing lawmakers objected to the government’s facilitation of the games during a legislative council meeting last Thursday, with Junius Ho calling them “disgraceful” and saying he did not want the “dirty money” the games will generate.
“It was much regretted that in the course of discussing this topic in the Legislative Council, individual members have become a bit emotional in expressing their view,” Lam said.
She also said the city’s lawmakers have certain standards of behaviour that should followed: “But after all, they are Legislative Council members and they have their own standards they should abide by.”
Lam added that she did not accept any comments that would “unnecessarily divide society.”
“I certainly, personally and as a chief executive, do not condone that sort of remarks by individuals which will unnecessarily divide society and even raise hatred among certain sectors in the community,” the city’s leader said.
The games set for the end of 2022 are organised under the banner “Unity in Diversity.”
When asked by HKFP if the government would provide support beyond just allowing the organisers to book off-peak venues, Lam referred to previous comments made by Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui who said the government will provide access to sports facilities according to existing regulations.
Her comments on Tuesday stand in contrast to the lukewarm response Lam gave in 2017, when she told reporters that she had simply “noted” the city’s winning bid to host the event.
‘Collaborative and fruitful cooperation’
GGHK’s organisers welcomed the chief executive’s comments on Tuesday.
“The organisers of the 11th International Gay Games in Hong Kong welcome the remarks by Mrs Lam and we look forward to a collaborative and fruitful cooperation with the SAR government to achieve success for the Games in November 2022,” a statement to HKFP read.
The organisers also called on the government to provide additional assistance to secure venues in time to host the mass event.
“As the Games are only a year and a half away, we urgently ask the government to help us secure sports venues ahead of time, not subject to rules and regulations typically applied to one-off local events,” the statement continued.
Tsui said last Thursday that the organisers will be able to book venues 12 months instead of six months in advance if they work with national sports associations as co-organisers.
Further discriminatory remarks
In a live-stream last week, lawmaker Ho continued to make discriminatory comments about the LGBT+ community and suggested the “pro-gay movement” was a threat to national security, traditional marriage and human survival: “I stress that we are not discriminating against them, but we have to ensure our own right of survival, humanity’s shared destiny – where the future leads to.”
When asked about Ho’s remarks last week, the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) told HKFP that it supported the games but there were no legal protections for sexual minorities: “Sexual orientation is not one of the protected attributes of the ordinances,” a spokesperson said. “While respecting individuals’ rights to freedom of expression, the EOC believes that any remarks, especially public discourse and statement, should be based on respect and inclusion, and avoid labelling or stigmatisation.”
The 11th Gay Games set for the end of next year are expected to attract around 12,000 participants, 75,000 spectators and 300 volunteers from 100 countries, generating around HK$1 billion of revenue for the city.
Equal marriage remains illegal in Hong Kong, whilst the government has continued to appeal court cases that afford more rights to LGBT+ citizens.
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.