Top government advisor Regina Ip has denied claims that Hong Kong’s Gay Games is a threat to national security, ahead of the inclusive sporting competition opening on Friday.

The fact that Gay Games Hong Kong 2023 were using a government sports centre as a venue showed that the international multisport and cultural event was not illegal, Executive Council convenor Ip said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Regina Ip
Regina Ip. Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

Her remarks came hours after around 20 self-proclaimed “patriotic citizens” filed a petition at the legislature to oppose the event, which runs from November 3 and 11. They claimed that while the Gay Games appeared to be promoting diversity and cohesion, it was in fact displaying “invasive behaviour.”

The event also celebrated same-sex relationships and transgender people, which the petitioners said amounted to spreading the idea of “sexual indulgence” to the city’s young generation and “completely subverting Chinese culture and traditional family values.”

“Organising the Gay Games is inviting trouble and threatening national security,” a statement from the petitioners read.

“By infiltrating our culture, education, and legal systems, there is an attempt to undermine ethical values surrounding gender, marriage, and family and carry out a colour revolution,” they claimed.

gay games
The Gay Games team. Photo: Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2023, via Facebook.

Among the lawmakers who received the petition was Junius Ho, who said the agenda of pushing for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong was a “sugar-coated poison.”

“The agenda [of promoting same-sex marriage] contravenes our current constitution, our current laws and our national security law,” he said.

See also: Explainer: What is Hong Kong’s Gay Games and why has it seen so much controversy?

Self-declared non-establishment lawmaker Tik Chi Yuen was also present. In May, he said that “any form of discrimination cannot be tolerated,” when asked by HKFP about the government’s funding of groups with an anti-LGBTQ stance.

Tik told HKFP over email that he attended Wednesday’s petition press conference in order to listen to public opinion: It does not mean that I agree with the press conference’s position. Based on my religious beliefs, I may not agree with LGBTQ+, but I emphasize that I absolutely respect it. At the same time, we have to respect different opinions and positions but it doesn’t mean that we have a right to discriminate on LGBT+ and against them to fight for the human rights.”

Tik Chi-yuen
Lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen speaks to reporters on Oct 25, 2023. File Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

He added that he had no special opinion on teams partaking in the Gay Games, adding that he did not believe they had anything to do with the security law: “We hope that different groups not be politicize Gay Games, and personal attacks, which is not conducive to objective and rational discussions.”

Ip: ‘[S]ame-sex marriage will not occur’

New People’s Party chairwoman Ip wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that many government departments, including the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and statutory body, InvestHK, had shown support for the Gay Games as people had sought to organise the event since 2016.

Hong Kong was named the first city in Asia to organise the Gay Games in 2017 but the event was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ip said. The government eventually provided the use of Queen Elizabeth Stadium as a competition venue, which she said was proof that the event was legal.

“Hence the claims that the Gay Games breaches the law absolutely do not exist,” Ip’s post read.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho on October 25, 2023. Photo Kyle Lam/HKFP.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho. File photo Kyle Lam/HKFP.

She added she backed the Gay Games because she always opposed discrimination and supported equal opportunities. But the legislator said she had never promoted or supported the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“I emphasise that it is not the case, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage will not occur in Hong Kong,” she wrote.

Ho said at the petition meeting on Wednesday that the Executive Council convenor may have her personal views, but all views must be exercised within the legal framework. Ip was aware of the anti-Gay Games press conference, he said, adding the petitioners should ask Ip directly why she had not attended the meeting or received the petition letters.

Whilst same-sex sexual activity was legalised in 1991, Hong Kong has no laws to protect the LGBTQ community from discrimination in employment, the provision of goods and services, or from hate speech. Equal marriage remains illegal, although a 2023 survey showed that 60 per cent of Hongkongers support it. Despite repeated government appeals, courts have granted those who married – or who entered civil partnerships – abroad some recognition in terms of tax, spousal visas and public housing.

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Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.