The Pink Alliance, the largest LGBT organization in Hong Kong has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) that outlines the lackluster performance of their government to progress on its LGBT human rights promises.
Since 1999, the UNHRC has been telling Hong Kong that it should be implementing various pieces of anti-discrimination legislation for LGBT protections, but at the present moment there is no legislation that protects LGBT people in the private sphere. This means that LGBTI discrimination still continues in Hong Kong in areas such as employment, housing, the provision of services- even when buying groceries.
“The problem is that although Hong Kong’s constitution protects citizens from discrimination, this only means that the government cannot discriminate against LGBT persons. Until there is LGBT discrimination legislation there is nothing to stop non- government employers, landlords, service providers, or any non-government agency from discriminating against LGBT persons in Hong Kong” Michael Vidler, the lawyer who represents the Pink Alliance and who wrote the report submitted to the UN, told 429Magazine.
“On a day to day basis LGBT people continue to be discriminated against in Hong Kong and there is nothing they can do, and no law they can turn to for protection. That’s why the Human Rights Committee in Geneva has been calling upon Hong Kong to introduce legislation for the last 14 years.”
LGBT Rights in Hong Kong:
The Hong Kong government official position is that it is against discrimination but says that this problem is best dealt with with by education and administrative measures. Vidler says that “ to placate the UN” the government set up the Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Unit (GISOU) to coordinate efforts to counter LGBT discrimination and the Sexual Minorities Forum to act as a channel of communication between the government and LGBT groups. ” Both have however proven to be totally ineffective and now stands as obstacles to progress on LGBT discrimination.”
Moreover, Vidler believes the forum was set up to fail. “The government invited onto the forum evangelical organizations that publicly advocate conversion therapy through prayer. This is deeply offensive to the LGBT community in Hong Kong and shows just how far behind Hong Kong is in terms of understanding LGBT rights issues.
Last week the Pink Alliance, along with 20 other LGBT organizations, officially withdrew from the LGBT Rights Forum in Hong Kong to protest at the failure of the forum and to highlight the government’s failure to deliver on its UN Human Rights promises.
The Pink Alliance Goes to the United Nations:
Currently the UN Human Rights Committee is in its 107th session and looking into Hong Kong’s adherence to its human rights obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966). Every time it reports, the Hong Kong government gives assurances that it is meeting its international human rights obligations in respect of LGBT rights
To draw attention to the ‘misleading information’ contained in the government’s official report the Pink Alliance has filed a shadow report with the UN. The Pink Alliance’s report argues that the Government of Hong Kong is doing exactly the opposite of what they are promising.
The report reveals that the failure of GISOU and the SMF is only the tip of the iceberg. For years the Hong Kong government has been actively engaging with homophobic organizations, to the extent that homophobic evangelical organizations have even been employed by the government to teach about LGBT rights. “It’s a bit like allowing the lunatics to run the lunatic asylum,” Vidler said.
The Pink Alliance is hoping to counter the perception that Hong Kong is a socially progressive place when in fact it is holding back progress on LGBT rights.