The Gay Games, a global sporting and cultural event celebrating diversity and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community, made history when it opened its doors in Hong Kong for the first time.
Despite resistance from some lawmakers and conservative groups, supporters of the event applauded the start of this historic occasion.
What Is Gay Games In Hong Kong?
The games are being conducted concurrently in Guadalajara, Mexico, with many of the same events, a first for the competition, which began in San Francisco in 1982.
During the nine-day event, about 2,400 competitors from 45 countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia, will compete in various events ranging from tennis and swimming to culturally rich activities such as dragon boat racing and mahjong.
Following the parade of athletes, a series of performances highlighted Hong Kong’s Chinese culture while combining modern dance, musical theatre, and lion dancers.
When Did The Gay Game Start In Hong Kong?
Despite resistance from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, scores of competitors welcomed the start of the Gay Games in Hong Kong on Saturday, marking the first time the international sporting event has been staged in Asia.
Why Were Some Lawmakers Against It?
LGBTQ+ activism is a rare bright spot in Hong Kong, despite the government’s crackdown on civil society following the 2019 pro-democracy rallies.
Following court victories last month over housing and inheritance rights for same-sex couples married overseas, the games raise hopes for further integration of sexual minorities in the Asian financial powerhouse.
Following a landmark verdict in September, the city is also moving toward a framework for recognizing same-sex relationships.
However, the city’s LGBTQ+ progress has been inconsistent.
There is no law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination, and same-sex marriage is not permitted.
While social acceptance of sexual minorities is expanding, particularly among the younger generation, a segment of the local society remains conservative.
Several pro-establishment MPs, including Junius Ho, have publicly condemned the event, which takes place from Friday to Saturday.
Ho warned Chief Executive John Lee to be wary of “bad ideologies” invading Hong Kong and acts of “soft resistance,” according to a letter he posted on Facebook on Friday.
He agreed with other critics who believed the games advocated for same-sex marriage legalization, which they claimed violated a national security law Beijing enforced on the former British colony following the demonstrations.
Earlier this week, Regina Ip, a famous pro-establishment politician and a member of Hong Kong’s Cabinet faced fire from gay rights critics for her support for the games.
Since the organizers won the bid to host the games six years ago, the event has faced several hurdles, including inadequate government funding.
The COVID-19 epidemic not only forced the event to be postponed for a year, but it also indirectly led to its shrinkage.
This occurred when Guadalajara, Mexico, was named as a co-host for the games when the city was unsure when travel restrictions would be relaxed.
Some LGBTQ+ advocates have avoided visiting Hong Kong due to concerns about the security law, which has been used to arrest some of Hong Kong’s leading human rights campaigners.
However, some visitors from Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, came to the city under the moniker Chinese Taipei.
Hong Kong and Beijing have defended the security law, claiming it has restored calm to the city.
Self-government democracy Taiwan is Asia’s sole region that allows same-sex weddings.
It staged the latest of more than 20 annual pride parades last month, bringing 176,000 spectators and participants.
According to Alonso Chen, a frequent attendee at the Taipei event, while some in Taiwanese society remain fiercely critical of the LGBTQ+ population, the presence of parents with their children at previous events demonstrates an increasing acceptance.
“This is very important to me because parents show their children this is a normal part of life.”
They tell children, “Look, they’re just like your classmates or teachers.” We are the same, and nothing is different.”
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