A wave of hope! According to a study conducted by Hong Kong University’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL), support for legalising same-sex marriage has jumped 12 per cent over a four-year period in Hong Kong. The study showcases that across the board and on a variety of topics regarding the LGBTQ community, support is very much on the rise.
According to the CCPL, the study is the first of its kind in HK to keep track of public opinion on the rights of LGBTQ folks. The researchers started their study with a telephone survey in 2013 and repeated it again in 2017. Their results show that the number of people who support same-sex couples rights and believe they should be permitted to marry has risen by 50.4 per cent, compared with 38 per cent back in 2013.
Professor Yiu-tung Suen of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, one of the research leaders, said “Our study shows that support for the rights of same-sex couples has grown markedly over a short period. A few years has made a significant difference.”
The report also draws attention to the shift in perception outside of Hong Kong, citing “It is worth noting that, between the time of the two surveys, the highest courts of the United States and Taiwan both ruled that it is unconstitutional to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. These major developments made news headlines in Hong Kong and may have contributed to the shift in Hong Kong public opinion”
The survey brings more good news with 69 per cent of respondents agreeing that Hong Kong should have laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation, whilst 78 per cent believe that same-sex couples should be able to visit one another in the hospital during family hours visiting hours.
The HKU centre’s director Kelley Loper stated that the study shows that there is a significant discrepancy between the law and public opinion, indicating “While 69 percent of Hong Kong people said they favour having a law to protect against sexual orientation discrimination, the government of Hong Kong has yet to enact such legislation” This meaning that any employer could effectively fire an employee should they disagree with their sexual orientation, and there would be no legal repercussions.
Though Hong Kong still has a long way to go, we can take comfort that in a short period of time society has shifted its values to be accepting of people from all walks of life. This time last year, HK media outlets were reporting on an anti-gay advocacy group and a poor excuse for a human being Lawmaker Holden Chow who claim that legalising same-sex marriage will lead to human trafficking, abortions, incest despite there being literally no evidence.
But back to the positive! This monumental study was released the day before the Court of Final Appeal handed down a landmark decision in a case where a woman was seeking a visa for her same-sex partner. The courts put an end to an immigration policy that restricted such permits to those who are married and in a heterosexual relationship and requiring immigration authorities to grant same-sex partners spousal visas going forward. A great precedent set that much of the public hopes will spark a change within the government.
With Taiwan as the latest country in Asia to embrace same-sex marriage, they are cementing their reputation as a beacon of liberalism. As for Hong Kong, we can only continue to fight for the right to equality and work towards change for the better.