A recent survey reveals a significant shift in public opinion, with support for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong rising to 60 percent, a remarkable increase from 38 percent a decade ago. However, despite this growing acceptance, LGBTQ+ couples continue to encounter hurdles on their path to equal rights.
Leia and Zhen, a couple working as teachers at a Christian school, share their experiences as a testament to the struggles faced by many queer couples. Forced to conceal their relationship due to the school’s policy, they live in constant caution, unable to express affection openly like their heterosexual colleagues.
Leia reflects on the school’s stance, stating, “If our students knew we are together, they would be thrilled and excited for us, but this won’t be the school’s perspective.” While they witness positive changes in Hong Kong society, particularly among the younger generation, who display greater openness and acceptance, their professional environment remains restrictive.
The couple contemplated getting married overseas during the pandemic but were deterred by the exorbitant costs involved. Leia questions why same-sex couples should bear a financial burden greater than their heterosexual counterparts to have their relationships recognized. For Leia and Zhen, marriage represents not just a romantic ideal but a fundamental human right that would provide them with the security and equality they seek.
Recent research conducted by Professor Holning Lau suggests that several factors contribute to the shifting attitudes towards same-sex marriage. These include increased media representation of LGBTQ+ couples, landmark court rulings affirming LGBTQ+ rights, and the global trend of legalizing same-sex marriage in other countries. Court decisions granting dependent visas, civil servant spousal benefits, and protections in housing, inheritance, and child custody cases have played a pivotal role in advancing LGBTQ+ rights.
Moreover, personal connections with LGBTQ+ individuals have played a significant role in shaping public opinion. Professor Lau notes that interpersonal contact fosters more favorable attitudes towards gays and lesbians in Hong Kong. As awareness and understanding grow, the trajectory towards equality becomes more apparent.
Nevertheless, despite societal progress, the Hong Kong government remains resistant to advancing same-sex unions. The courts dismissed a 2018 lawsuit filed by a woman who argued that her privacy and equality had been violated by the denial of a civil partnership. The government asserted that the matter fell outside the court’s purview. Despite opposition, the LGBTQ+ community in Hong Kong remains optimistic, knowing that change is inevitable. The question now revolves around when, rather than if, same-sex marriage will be realized.
Leia offers a simple message to the government, urging them not to fear change. The support for same-sex marriage is growing louder, and the time to act is drawing near.
In Hong Kong, the winds of equality blow stronger each day, propelling the city towards a future where love knows no boundaries.