Three in four Hong Kong residents agree that gay and lesbian couples should enjoy many of the same civil rights as heterosexual couples, according new research from the University of Hong Kong, however, only a minority of residents extend an open-mind when it comes to marriage between same-sex couples.
Researchers conducted a survey through phone last June which included a random sample of 410 people over the age of 18 in Hong Kong. As to reflect language patterns, 98 percent of the interview was carried out in Cantonese and the rest in English.
Results showed that around 74 percent of participants were in support of granting same-sex couples equal rights as heterosexual couples when it came to matters like hospital visits designated for family members, protection from housing discrimination and the ability to inherit property after a partner’s death.
However, only 27 percent of the participants completely agreed that same-sex couples should be granted the right to get married. Around 12 percent of people said they somewhat agreed.
Kelley Loper, one of the authors of the survey, stated:
The Hong Kong government presently provides virtually no legal recognition to same-sex couples. One notable exception exists in Hong Kong’s domestic violence law, which extends protections to victims of abuse in same-sex cohabiting relationships. The Hong Kong government may be concerned about the potential public response to same-sex couple rights. Government authorities claim that same-sex marriage is highly controversial and point to an apparent lack of public approval for legalising same-sex marriage.
Dr. York Chow, Chairman of the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission, pointed out that if same-sex marriage is not politically plausible, other programs could be developed to grant same-sex couples the same kind of rights enjoyed by married heterosexual couples.
“These compromise legal solutions have been given a variety of different names, such as ‘registered domestic partnerships’, ‘civil unions’, and ‘civil partnerships’,” Loper explained.
This research proves that “To the extent that public opinion is relevant, there is ample public support for extending rights [short of legalizing sam-sex marriage] to committed same-sex couples,” she said.
A spokesman for the Equal Opportunities Commission told SCMP that the results are a positive step forward for the LGBT community in Hong Kong.
“We are encouraged to see that a large majority of people in Hong Kong support conferring rights on committed same-sex couples as for heterosexual couples,” he said.
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[Image Credit: -Marlith-]