Hong Kong’s railway system on Tuesday (21 May) said it would display an advert featuring a same-sex couple.
The Mass Rapid Transit (MTR) system’s advertising agent made the announcement 24 hours after it emerged it was initially banned.
The city’s LGBTI groups launched hand-holding campaigns in protest.
‘We have been in contact with the relevant advertising agency and have just confirmed to the agency that the advertisement in question can be displayed at MTR stations,’ a JCDecaux spokeswoman said in a statement, according to the South China Morning Post.
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.
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.’
The 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. He also threatened to hold a mass hand-holding protest.
Hong Kong’s latest LGBTI group, Hong Kong Marriage Equality (HKME), launched a ‘move beyond discrimination’ campaign in response.
HKME co-founder Jerome Yau on Tuesday told Gay Star News they were ‘delighted the MTR had ‘done the right thing’.
‘HKME hopes that this is the beginning of a more welcoming attitude from MTRC and its associated vendors’.
Chan, meanwhile, urged the MTR and JCDecaux to set up clear guidelines so it didn’t happen again.
Both Yau and Chan called on the Airport Authority to also allow the ad.
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.