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LGBTI migrant workers step out for their rights in Hong Kong

LGBTI migrant workers step out for their rights in Hong Kong

a person waves a rainbow flag above their head

A coalition of LGBT migrant workers made themselves heard in central Hong Kong. Migrants’ Pride was held where the headquarters of many global firms and international banks are located.

More than a protest, than a pride parade, LGBT communities from various nationalities organized the protest on 18 November to call for equal rights. A coalition of migrant organizations from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Nepal helped organized the protest. One of the lead organizers, Gabriela Hong Kong liaised with local police to ensure it went smoothly.

Although Hong Kong recently made a landmark ruling that grants spousal visas for same-sex partners officially married in another country, the benefit does not extend to most migrant workers. Many of the city’s  migrant workers come from countries in the Asia Pacific region without same-sex marriage.

Migrant workers celebrate pride
Migrant workers celebrate pride | Photo: Athena Lam

Hong Kong’s migrant Pride

The population of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong has increased 70% in a decades. Now more than 584,000 people are from an ethnic minority, according Hong Kongs 2016 by-census.

Filipinos and Indonesians made up  a vast majority of those at 184,081 and 153,299 respectively.

Many migrant workers in Hong Kong are domestic helpers, whose contracts do not afford the same level of protection that residents of Hong Kong enjoy, such as protection from deportation if they report abuse by employers.

The march began at Edinburgh Place (City Hall) and went through major landmarks for the Filipino community in central before ending at the venue for the main program at Chater Road.

Participants chanted slogans to greet the crowds of migrant workers who were also in the area on their day off. Every Sunday, central undergoes a transformation from being Hong Kong’s financial heart filled with business suits to a bustling hub for migrant workers to socialize.

Migrants Pride Festivities continued throughout the day in Central with presentations and performances after the march.

This year’s theme was was, Pride, Freedom, and Change!, where marchers called for an end to social injustice through lack of state protection and social exclusion.

Several LGBTI groups helped organize the event, with each participating organization had a designated colour under the LGBT+ rainbow banner.

LGBTI migrant workers

Amnesty International Hong Kong and other organizations have launched petitions on behalf of the workers. They’re calling on the Department of Labour and Welfare to create more protective measures for migrant workers.

Local Hong Kong organizations including, the Association for Advancement of Feminism, also marched in solidarity with the migrant workers. The marchers were also joined by a contingent from Taiwan, who had marched in Hong Kong Pride 2018 the day before.

Migrants Pride Hong Kong 2018 was jointly organized by Gabriela Hong Kong, the Filipino Lesbians Organization, Filguys Gabriela Association, Share Hong Kong, The UNITY Association, Nepali Workers Association, Auto8a, and the Same Same Different Association.

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