The world has seen much progress in bringing equality to LGBT people in the past couple of years. The summer of 2015 saw the United States Supreme Court ruling that gave same-sex couples the right to marry nationally. Later that year, Ireland allowed its first gay couple to wed.
Last year Finland and Colombia followed suit and this year Taiwan’s top judicial organ ruled that same-sex couples had the right to marry. Now in Europe, we have just seen Germany and even Malta, the most Roman Catholic country on the continent, legislate to allow LGBT citizens to tie the knot. Since the Netherlands started the trend in 2001, 27 countries and regions have now taken this path.
So where do we stand in “Asia’s World City”? Have we seen any progress to protect our LGBT citizens and make them equal to the rest? The sad answer is no. Here, certain sectors act as though it’s still OK to discriminate.
So in Hong Kong we still hear anti-LGBT arguments that have been, and are being, refuted elsewhere, arguments that would be laughable if they were not so pernicious in their effects upon our vulnerable, young LGBT citizens. Here we seem not to care that discrimination and lack of protection damage the lives of some of our most vulnerable people. We are more concerned about protecting the “right” to spout hatred for others than to help those who suffer victimization.
Discrimination against LGBT men and women, our fellow citizens, is just plain wrong. It causes untold personal suffering and economic loss. It harms the innocent. Stopping discrimination prevents harm
On July 12, a scantily attended seminar against same-sex marriage gained press coverage for the speeches of its anti-LGBT organizers, who wish to deny equality to the 5-10 percent of our population whose sexual orientation or gender identity differs from the majority. It’s sad to see such negative views against a vulnerable minority given another public airing.
Prominent among the ideas put forward at the seminar was the old chestnut that, if it were no longer possible to discriminate against gay and transgender people, those who wish to discriminate would somehow be discriminated against themselves.
We all know that discriminating against people hurts them; there’s really no way around that. Discrimination equals hurt. If you want to discriminate against some people on any grounds, you have to accept that they are going to get hurt. So the “reverse discrimination” argument prioritizes the right to hurt LGBT people over preventing the harm that discrimination causes.
In a well-ordered society such as Hong Kong, where we take pride in our rule of law and our tolerant and harmonious culture, and one might expect that those who seek to hurt others would be regarded as immoral and their actions as criminal. Yet we have no law to prevent harmful discrimination against LGBT people. We are, in effect, now allowing one group of our citizens to harm another group.
At the meeting of July 12, much was made of the supposed need to deny the right to same-sex marriage in order to maintain “family values” and the “institution of marriage”. Somehow, it was claimed, same-sex marriage would damage marriage for everyone else. No notice, of course, was taken of the fact that in no country that has, in the past 16 years, allowed same-sex marriage has there been any evidence that this has had any effect whatsoever on heterosexual marriage. This is, of course, in accord with common sense. No man’s marriage affects another. No marriage is valid only because someone else is prevented from marrying.
Discrimination against LGBT men and women, our fellow citizens, is just plain wrong. It causes untold personal suffering and economic loss. It harms the innocent. Stopping discrimination prevents harm. The argument of “reverse discrimination” doesn’t hold water; it allows some to harm those who have no legal means to defend themselves.
There is though, a quote in a treatise on homosexuality that cut to the chase about discrimination and why tolerance is the glue of society: “Love has no gender — compassion has no religion — character has no race.” Surely this is also in accord with all mainstream religions.
The author in 2008 was appointed English secretary of the Pink Alliance, Hong Kong’s largest grouping of LGBT organizations.