Campaigners opposed to gay rights rallied today (13 January) in Tamar Park, near government buildings in Hong Kong, against government consultation on a law to protect gays from discrimination.
In the next few days, the HK Chief Executive, Chun-Ying (CY) Leung is due to give his annual policy address. Two sets of rumors are circulating, one that he will – and the other that he won't – include a consultation on a sexual orientation discrimination ordinance for Hong Kong. Vocal parties for and against the consultation have been trying to persuade CY.
The latest effort to pressure him came today when an a large group of churches gathered supporters against the consultation in Tamar Park. Estimates of the numbers attending range widely from 15,000 to 50,000.
The rally included speeches, songs, and both group and silent prayer - all supporting free speech and equal rights, but specifically targetted against an anti-gay discrimination law and against gay marriage.
At one point during the rally, members of Hong Kong Rainbow Center joined the rally with signs supporting free speech and equal rights for the LGBT community. They were quickly cordoned off so that they had limited access to the crowd.
GSN met Grace and Eric, a lesbian and her gay friend, who attended to see what the turnout would be like.
'I am scared walking to the venue, because everyone opposes you without knowing you,' Grace told me.
'The church that organized this assembly has manipulated the people against something they don't understand,' Eric added.
We spoke to some of the other people who attended the rally. One woman told us she was there to protect her business. She explained that an anti-discrimination law could put her out business, because she works at a beauty salon where she charges men and women different prices for facials. She thought a new law would force her to charge the same, thus losing money.
When a pro-gay attendee tried to explain to her that she was talking about sex and gender, not sexual orientation - she was not willing to listen as her church had told her a law could threaten her business.
But not all Christians agreed with this rally.
The 'Narrow Road' church, based in Jordan, Hong Kong, held their own counter-rally to support their gay friends and family.
'I want to voice out the alternative voice of the Christian community,' said Tak Chi Tam. He and his group held a prayer meeting outside the rally to show that not all Christians are homophobic.
Many in the Hong Kong LGBT community with spoke with after the rally reported they were very 'depressed' by it.
They felt it was a sign that while Hong Kong has been slowing making progress, there are still many members of the public who do not yet understand and accept the value inclusion can bring to the society as a whole.