Hong Kongers took to social media this week after it emerged an advert featuring a same-sex couple had been banned from the city’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and airport.
Hong Kong’s largest airline, Cathay Pacific, last week launched an LGBTI-inclusive advertisement as part of its rebrand.
A poster at the airline’s headquarters shows two men holding hands on a beach with ‘Move beyond labels’ written underneath.
But, the South China Morning Post revealed the advert had been banned by the MTR and the Airport Authority.
Hong Kong’s latest LGBTI group, Hong Kong Marriage Equality, launched a ‘move beyond discrimination’ campaign in response.
Legendary LGBTI rights campaigner and lesbian billionaire Gigi Chao kicked off the campaign with a MTR selfie.
LGBTI group Pink Alliance also quickly joined.
The MTR corporation on Monday (20 May) shifted blame to its advertising agency JCDecaux.
A statement said it had asked JCDecaux to consider MTR’s ‘commitment to equal opportunities and diversity when it considers advertisements in the future.’
They city’s only openly-gay lawmaker Ray Chan hit back by saying MTR said ‘a statement reaffirming its commitment to diversity is not enough’.
He said, as a public corporation, MTR had a responsibility to make a public explanation and apology.
‘Until then, I urge activists, allies, and ordinary citizens alike to post their photos of holding hands within MTR premises on social media to raise awareness to the issue.’
He threatened to hold a mass hand-holding protest.
Chinese society puts a lot of emphasis on heterosexual families and there are no legal anti-discrimination protections.
Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex marriages. And, the city only decriminalized gay sex in 1991.
What’s more, many LGBTI citizens do not come out to their family and colleagues.
In July last year, however, Hong Kong’s LGBTI had a reason to celebrate. The Court of Final Appeal ruled the immigration department must recognize overseas same-sex marriages when issuing spousal visas.
Also, earlier this year, two gay men won the right to challenge laws banning same-sex marriage.