HSBC will continue to celebrate Hong Kong’s gay community with its display of two rainbow-colored lion statues, despite ferocious opposition from local anti-LGBT groups.
The statues were unveiled at the end of last month at the HSBC Main Building Plaza in Hong Kong’s Central District. Although they resemble the bank’s iconic mascots that have stood on guard since 1935, the replicas have been given a colorful and symbolic overhaul by local LGBT artist Michael Lam. “Stephen” has been given the stripes of the gay pride flag, while “Stitt” has been decorated in circles representing unity in diversity.
However, HSBC’s “Celebrate Pride, Celebrate Unity” initiative has been met with disapproval from local activist groups that don’t agree with the corporate giant’s message of diversity and inclusiveness.
A number of “pro-family” groups have criticized HSBC for their display of support for Hong Kong’s LGBT community, calling the two colorful lions “disgusting.”
Groups such as Parents for the Family Association, Overturning LGBT Agenda, and Next Generation Orientation have begun circulating an online petition to have the replicas removed.
Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group founder Roger Wong Wai-ming wants HSBC to consider the many hurt feelings they are causing.
“We think that this very act is causing damage to the emotions of many Hong Kong people as well as trampling on their family values,” said Wong, who is the father of Hong Kong’s most famous democracy activist Joshua Wong. The 20-year-old public face of Hong Kong democracy has since distanced himself from his father.
Despite criticism that they have emasculated their mascots and blurred gender roles, HSBC has decided not to give in to the opposition. A spokesperson for the bank told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the initiative to promote diversity is receiving overwhelming support from the public. By comparison, the bank considers the protests to be insignificant, though they have been given more attention by the media.
Gay rights are on the brink of a watershed moment in Asia with Taiwan currently poised to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Public support for gay marriage in Taiwan was demonstrated on Saturday by a protest numbering over 200,000 people in Taipei.
By comparison, Hong Kong’s attitude towards gay rights is much more conservative, making gay-friendly initiatives offered by multi-national entities like HSBC harder to accept for locals.
Last year, Hong Kong’s first and only openly gay legislator Raymond Chan Chi-chuen attempted to begin legislative discussion to legalize same-sex unions. However, Chan himself has been a target of discrimination due to his sexual orientation, making it unlikely that the former British colony will be following Taiwan’s example anytime soon.
When the head of Hong Kong’s equality watchdog Dr. York Chow Yat-ngok was asked in 2015 about the possibility of Hong Kong legalizing same-sex marriages within his lifetime, Dr. Chow laughed and replied: “I don’t know how long I will live. I am quite old now.”
By Charles Liu
[Images via Facebook / Facebook / Facebook]
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