Chair of Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) said on Sunday (26 May) it was ‘impractical’ to attempt marriage equality during his three-year tenure.
‘If you ask the EOC to waste resources to do something people have already said could never pass [the legislature], then why would we do it?’ Ricky Chu asked a radio show host on Sunday.
He said he would not support a motion in the city’s Legislative Council calling for further study of same-sex unions in the city.
‘My logic is based on realistic outcomes’ he said.
Traditional, family-orientated Hong Kong society means many LGBTI citizens remain in the closet.
Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex partnerships and has no laws to protect LGBTI people from discrimination.
Chu said he wanted to focus on safeguarding LGBTQ rights in employment, public services, and education during his three-year term.
Host of the radio show and LGBTI activist Brian Leung told Hong Kong Free Press he was ‘totally taken aback’ by Chu’s comments.
‘He continued to play defence for the government throughout the interview,’ Leung told HKFP.
‘You can’t help but wonder whether EOC is [being] reduced to a mouthpiece under his leadership’.
Leung also questioned whether the EOC was too close to the government. The government appointed Chu to his position.
LGBTI rights in Hong Kong
On Saturday, LGBTI rights campaigners gathered in Hong Kong to promote same-sex marriage rights.
It comes after neighboring Taiwan last week became the first country in the region to allow such unions.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, recently described equal marriage as ‘controversial’.
But following a July 2018 court ruling, Hong Kong does recognize overseas same-sex unions when granting spousal visas.
At least three cases fighting for rights of same-sex couples are currently in the courts.
A lesbian woman known as MK is taking the government to court. She and her lawyers are arguing that preventing her from forming a civil partnership contravenes her rights to equality and privacy.
Immigration officer Angus Leung, who married his husband in New Zealand five years ago, sued the government in 2015.
The government had refused to recognize his marital status and grant his husband benefits such as medical insurance.
Hong Kong’s top court is now conducting the final hearings in the case and is expected rule in the next few months.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, are leading marriage equality challenges.
What’s more, last month, renowned lesbian heiress, Gigi Chao launched a new group, Hong Kong Marriage Equality.