Local conservative groups have urged Hong Kong authorities to oppose the upcoming Gay Games, calling the advocacy of LGBTQ rights a “threat” to traditional values and saying the event scheduled for November could lead to a “repeat” of the protests and unrest of 2019.

gay games protest
Representatives from local groups protesting against Hong Kong’s hosting of the Gay Games on June 21, 2023. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Representatives from several groups staged a demonstration outside the government headquarters on Wednesday, holding up banners that referred to the Gay Games as “indecent” and “obscene.”

“This event has been infiltrated with [ideas] about sexual liberation, bisexuality and homosexuality,” said Grace Kwong from pro-Beijing group Politihk Social Strategic. “[Such ideas] have even entered schools, poisoning our young people.”

“We parents do not want to see this and feel so helpless, because in 2019… we were already very scared,” Kwong said. “Could there be black riots that will happen [again]?”

The city saw widespread protests and unrest that year as demonstrators took to the streets to oppose a controversial extradition bill.

Kwong added that she was “afraid” the multi-sport event would trigger a “colour revolution,” as protesters urged the government to “show their opposition to the Gay Games” and “cease any venue support from government departments or groups.”

Representatives of about a dozen top officials, including of Chief Executive John Lee and Secretary for Security Chris Tang, stopped by the protest to receive petition letters from the groups.

gay games
Hong Kong representatives at the 2018 Gay Games held in Paris, France. Photo: Gay Games Hong Kong.

Joyce Chiu, from a group called “Family Build in Love,” said the Gay Games had an agenda to promote “sexual liberation.”

“[The LGBTQ community] are not the ones being marginalised,” Chiu said. “We are.”

The games, which were postponed for a year due to Covid-19, will be co-hosted by Hong Kong along with Guadalajara in Mexico. It will mark the first time the global sporting event will be held in Asia since it was founded in 1982.

Kwong added that Jimmy Sham, an openly gay LGBTQ and pro-democracy activist, and former lawmakers were “closely linked” with people who advocated for LGBTQ rights. Sham, as well as many ex-lawmakers, are currently detained under the national security law.

At least eight lawmakers, including Starry Lee, Priscilla Leung, Holden Chow, Peter Koon and Tik Chi-yuen, also attended the Wednesday protest to receive the petition letters, InMedia reported.

gay games
Supporters promoting the Gay Games at a pride parade in Tokyo in April 2023. Photo: Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2023, via Facebook.

“I really understand that there are many parents and groups in Hong Kong who are very concerned about the coming Gay Games,” Leung said.

She added that young children in Western countries were being taught things that challenged “traditional values,” and that Hong Kong “must not go down this bad path.”

Chow said he believed that there were “many citizens in Hong Kong who were respectful of traditional family values and ‘one-man, one woman’ matrimonies,” and that lawmakers would follow up on the matter in the Legislative Council.

First held in San Francisco in 1982, the Gay Games is a inclusive sporting event seeking to bring together athletes regardless of gender, age, ability, or physical challenge.

The nine-day-long Gay Games Hong Kong will include a range of sporting events, as well as art and cultural programmes such as concerts featuring local and international artists, exhibitions, and a festival village, according to its website. In May, organisers told HKFP that sign ups were more than 90 per cent below target.

‘Not a political event’

In response to HKFP, the Gay Games Hong Kong organisers said they “strongly disagreed” with the claims made at the protest, and that the games were “not a political event.”

LGBT gay rights flag rainbow
An LGBT flag. File photo: Rob Maxwell.

“LGBTQ+ parents and their children deserve respect, recognition, and support from society. They are part of the fabric of Hong Kong’s diverse and multicultural society,” they said.

“The LGBTQ+ movement is not a threat to family values, but rather a reaffirmation of them,” the organisers added. “Numerous studies have shown that LGBTQ+ parents and their children are as well-adjusted as parents and children in the general population. They do not differ in well-being or in multiple developmental outcomes from other families.”

Among the claims made at the demonstration were that “research proved” children brought up by same-sex parents were more likely to develop emotional disorders.

Lawmaker Regina Ip, one of the few LegCo members who has expressed support for Hong Kong’s hosting of the Gay Games, said the “accusation” that the Gay Games organisers were associated with the “colour revolution” and could incite street protests was a “very serious allegation which should not be made in such a cavalier manner.”

Regina Ip policy address
Lawmaker Regina Ip. File photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

“[S]uch allegations… [could] even stir up hatred against a particular class of individuals,” Ip told HKFP.

“Lawmakers should not provide more ammunition to foreign media for attacks on legitimate individual rights and freedoms,” she added.

In a statement to reporters at the petition, the groups said that they were preparing a “series of activities” including talks, collecting signatures and street booths to oppose Hong Kong’s hosting of the Gay Games.

Earlier this month, organisers of the Gay Games Hong Kong rejected what they called “slurs” after human rights activists called for the cancellation of the event.

In April, lawmaker Junius Ho shared a petition to protest the November event. Ho said two years ago that the financial benefit that the city would reap from hosting the Gay Games was “dirty money,” a comment which attracted ire from activist groups.

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Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.