Despite backlash, Hong Kong gears up for its first Gay Games

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Despite backlash, Hong Kong gears up for its first Gay Games. For the first time in Asia, the Gay Games, an international sporting event, will take place this Friday in Hong Kong for the first time despite some local opposition and concerns over political liberties.

A total of 2,381 participants will be taking part in the event, which features both LGBTQ and heterosexual athletes. The event will feature sporting events such as football, badminton, dragon boat races, and mahjong, and is aimed at promoting diversity through sports.

Lisa Lam said at a press conference held Thursday that the event is a great platform for people of all backgrounds and identities to come together in this culture of respect and acceptance no matter who they are or how they identify.

As a rule, there are no laws in Hong Kong preventing discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, so same-sex marriage is not permitted.

The top court of the city rejected gay marriages in September, but the court ordered the government to set up an alternative framework in order to acknowledge the rights of couples of the same sex.

AFP reported that the event promoter, Bu Chan, told AFP that although Hong Kong is always said to be an international metropolis, progress has been slow in some areas.

As a result of strict pandemic curbs lifted late last year, it has been scheduled in November for the Chinese financial hub to host the games, initially scheduled for last November but postponed due to strict pandemic restrictions.

There will be no overlap in sporting events between the two locations, as Guadalajara, also in Mexico, will co-host the event.

There is no question that the Gay Games can highlight Hong Kong’s “openness for business (and) its welcoming atmosphere to everyone”.

The organisers’ initial bid for the event was supported by Hong Kong officials, but most have refrained from publicly supporting the bid in recent months, despite the fact that they initially supported it.

Concerns regarding security

The Gay Games have been condemned by seven Hong Kong lawmakers, with pro-Beijing firebrand Junius Ho accusing the event of trying to undermine the national security of the country.

The former British colony of Hong Kong was subjected to widespread and at times violent prodemocracy protests in 2020, which resulted in Beijing imposing a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

In an interview with AFP last month, Lai Wen-wei, chair of the Taiwan Gay Sports and Movement Association, told the news agency that his team of up to 12 athletes would travel to Mexico for the competition.

It was also due to concerns about personal safety that we decided against sending a team to Hong Kong due to the possibility of arrest or detention if they wave Taiwan’s national flag. Because of the national security law, we decided against sending a team to Hong Kong.” Lai stated.

A statement by the organizers of the Gay Games says that this event is strictly non-partisan and non-political, and we ask all participants and visitors to respect and observe Hong Kong’s local laws and customs while they are in the city.

Gay Games organizers were reminded in August by the city’s authorities to comply with the city’s laws and regulations when preparing for the event.

One of the only pro-establishment figures expected to attend the Gay Games opening ceremony will be Regina Ip, a top government advisor, according to the organisers of the event.

In a survey conducted by the Hong Kong government this year, 60% of Hongkongers support same-sex marriage, an increase from just 38% a decade ago.

In a statement to AFP, Louis Ng, the organizer of the Gay Games, told AFP that he encountered people distributing flyers opposing this event at a Hong Kong street corner and, in an effort to reason with them, tried to reason with them.

In an effort to demonize gays, I saw a flyer that demonised gay people… We should try to talk to them and explain to them what this event is really about,” said Ng.

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