June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month, a time to commemorate years of struggle for equal rights and the ongoing pursuit of fairness and justice for the LGBTQ+ community. It's also a time to recognise and celebrate their achievements and the incredible diversity in gender and sexualities.
Around the world, there have been a few positive developments around greater acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, with 190 legal changes having been made in the past two years to better protect gender and sexual minorities. There has also been more diverse and authentic media representation of LGBTQ+ characters.
Asia has also seen progress on this front. Taiwan, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2019, is beginning to debate reform around child adoption and transnational marriage for same sex couples. Sentiments in Japan are shifting, with public opinion favouring same-sex marriage, and although courts have upheld the ban on same sex marriage thus far, 200 municipalities have recognised same sex partnerships (albeit without the same legal protections). And earlier this month, Thailand's same sex marriage bill passed its first reading in parliament, which bodes well for its eventual adoption.
In Hong Kong, visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community is slow, but there are bright spots. A survey conducted by CUHK shows that 60% of the respondents support legal protection from discrimination against people of different sexual orientations, and nearly half agree with equal marriage rights for same sex couples. The research results also reveal growth in support for LGBTQ+ inclusive business and transgender rights, and there have been an increasing number of insurance companies offering policies to recognise and protect same-sex couples. The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong reported significantly higher acceptance of LGBTQ+ among secondary school students since 2016.
Despite these developments, the LGBTQ+ community still face significant challenges in all aspects of their lives. For example, at work, a survey conducted by Lingnan University found that 65% of lesbian and bisexual female respondents reported perceiving a glass ceiling due to their sexual orientation. During COVID-19, a significant portion of the LGBTQ+ community struggled with mental health issues. Given there is no law in Hong Kong that explicitly protects people from discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status, this population is particularly vulnerable.
At TWF, we recognise the diversity in gender and sexuality, and we know that gender equality cannot be achieved without the inclusion of all genders and sexual identities. We have and will continue to advocate for better protections for the LGBTQ+ community. We are proud to be a supporting organisation for Gay Games 11, co-hosted with Guadalajara, Mexico in 2023, which marks the first largest-scale sports, arts and cultural event in Asia and Latin America. We strive to be inclusive in our communications, programmes and initiatives, and are continually reflecting and evolving our practices to do so.
Beyond Pride Month, every day and every action matters in creating a safe and equal city for all. We encourage you to show active care and support as allies throughout this month and going forward.
Get in touch at Fiona.Nott@twfhk.org.