SCMP Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Gays complain their rights are neglected


Little effort has been made to ensure the civil rights of gays in the decade since homosexuality was decriminalised, rights groups said yesterday.
The criticism came on the 10th anniversary of the repeal of legislation that outlawed homosexual sex.
To Chung-po, a founding member of the Chi Heng Foundation, which promotes the rights of homosexuals, said the Government remained reluctant to promote gays' legal and civil rights.
"The Government still doesn't want any legal reforms to recognise the rights and identity of homosexuals. For instance, homosexuals are not able to enjoy the same government housing subsidises and other social benefits as heterosexual couples," he said.
"Homosexual couples can't even sign an agreement to allow their partner to receive emergency surgery under Hong Kong law because they are not married.
"The Government is also reluctant to bring up the issue in schools. We are not promoting homosexuality, we simply want people to better understand those with a different sexual orientation. It will help the younger generation to accept homosexual people and promote harmony in our community."
Albert Luk, spokesman for another rights group, Satsanga, also complained homosexuals were a low priority for the Government.
"We can see a lot has been done for single parents, the elderly and the disabled. But the issue of homosexuality seems to be left out all the time," he said. "We do not see much progress by the Government over the past 10 years. However, we agree the community is more open and tolerant to people of different sexual orientations."
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor also urged the Government to bring in new laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.