Dr. York Chow Yat-ngok, the head of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission, made a few somewhat discouraging comments on the prospect of legalising gay marriage in Hong Kong while joining in on a Commercial Radio talk show earlier today.
When asked about the impact of the US Supreme Court’s recent legalisation of same-sex marriage and whether he thought Hong Kong would follow the US’ footsteps within his lifetime, he laughed and replied: “I don’t know how long I will live. I am quite old now,” according to SCMP.
He stressed that the EOC had no power or mandate to push forward the same-sex marriage law in Hong Kong, and that it could only encourage the discussion on same-sex issues in the community.
Hong Kongers are seemingly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage, he said, which makes the adoption of a gay marriage law incredibly difficult.
“Just look at how legislators view equal rights for gays and lesbians, not to mention marriage. How much support would you say there is among the legislators? I am not too optimistic about this,” said Chow, adding that there could be different opinions among the legislators, but surely the majority will not be in support of legalising same-sex unions.
His doubts are stemmed from the “passive” nature of Hong Kong courts, as well as the lack of public support, reflected by a recent proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
For the past few years, Chow and the EOC have been working closely on strengthening the legal protection of sexual minorities and other marginalised groups. He added that while it’ll be a lengthy process to push forward the gay rights movement in Hong Kong, he remains optimistic about future generations in the territory, saying that young people appear to be more receptive and open-minded about same-sex issues.
“I think more discussion will help the community gain a better understanding and they will eventually seek a more rational way to handle the issue [of LGBT rights],” he said.
By Crystal Lau
[Images via Hong Kong Commercial Broadcasting]