Hong Kong’s lawmakers have voted against a motion which would have set into motion a debate on legalizing same-sex unions.
The city’s only openly gay legislator, Ray Chan, introduced the motion into the Legislative Council on Thursday afternoon (22 November). But it was voted down 27-24.
Chan decided to introduce the motion after Hong Kong’s highest court ruled in a favor of a British lesbian, that same-sex couples married overseas should be granted dependant spousal visa in Hong Kong. He was also motivated by Angus Leung’s fight for same-sex couples working in the public service to get the same benefits as heterosexual couples.
In Hong Kong’s parliamentary system, members can move non-binding debates which Chang got the chance to do so earlier this year.
Chan moved the motion to propose that the government should ‘proactively and comprehensively review its policies on LGBT couples so they can enjoy rights, protections, and benefits similar to those of their married straight counterparts’.
He told Gay Star News that to garner most support from politicians across the political aisle, he tried to find common ground by using less controversial wordings.
In today’s failed motion, Chan proposed the government should study a way for same-sex couples to enter into a union so they can enjoy equal rights and protections.
‘It is meant to be get the ball rolling, and push the Government to address this issue to keep Hong Kong competitive in the global marketplace,’ he said.
Even though the motion was voted down, Chan said he has still achieved some objectives.
‘Formerly, no government policy bureau except the security bureau have taken up the LGBT issue – because the most burning LGBT issues were related to immigration and law enforcement,’ he said.
‘Now, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs bureau, which oversees human rights, takes up the LGBT issue as it pertains to the right to get married and other human rights, as stipulated in both the Basic Law and international conventions.
‘Second, this motion has built a consensus across the political aisle on civil union – most lawmakers of pro-democracy supported the motion, and were joined by Regina Ip, Eunice Yung, and Paul Tse from the pro-China and pro-Government camp.’
Chan said the next step would be to ‘to seek further common ground and build a broader coalition to push the LGBT rights issue forward’.
Chan hopes the government will agree with him that a ‘thorough review of policy and the institution of civil union can help members of the Hong Kong’s LGBT community to live a fuller and more equal lives on one hand, and make Hong Kong an attractive place to do global business on the other hand’.