Hong Kong Gay Games needs more support, lawmaker Regina Ip says as event struggles to find venues

·4-min read

A lawmaker has urged the Hong Kong government to throw more support to the organiser of the coming Gay Games, noting that they are having difficulty in finding venues to hold the events.

At a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the international event should be facilitated as it would help the city maintain its metropolitan image.

“The organiser was saying they had yet to find half of 56 sites they needed, while some national sports associations refused to cooperate at all,” said Ip, the chairwoman of the New People’s Party.

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Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. Photo: SCMP / K.Y. Cheng
Lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee. Photo: SCMP / K.Y. Cheng

But the event had drawn the ire of some lawmakers, with one calling the event “disgraceful”.

“We respect people with different sexual orientation. Whatever you do in your room, it’s your own business. But if you do it in public, it’s disgraceful,” said Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, adding the government should not support the event.

Ho also dismissed the argument that the Games would boost the economy, saying he would not want the “dirty money”.

Other lawmakers said government support of the Games would equate to approving of same-sex marriages.

Constitutional affairs chief Erick Tsang Kwok-wai said same-sex marriage was a controversial issue and that the government would not change its policy before a consensus was made in the public.

More than sports: Gay Games uses art to spread message of diversity

The organiser on Wednesday said it respected the views of lawmakers and would continue working to change “hearts and minds”.

“We understand that there will always be diverse views in Legco, and we respect our legislators’ right to share them,” it said in a statement.

“For our part, we will continue to engage with the government to ensure that the Games live up to the ideals that were promulgated from the very first events in 1982. We will do our best to change hearts and minds, engage, and promote the ideals on which the Games were founded: participation, inclusion and personal best.”

Hong Kong was announced as the next host of the Gay Games in Paris, on October 30, 2017. Photo: Facebook
Hong Kong was announced as the next host of the Gay Games in Paris, on October 30, 2017. Photo: Facebook

Founded as the “Gay Olympics”, the Gay Games was started in the United States in San Francisco, California.

Next year’s event will be the 11th edition of the sport and cultural event, which is held every four years to promote sexual diversity and features lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) athletes and artists.

Hong Kong was announced as the next host city at a gala event in Paris on October 30, 2017. It is the first time the Games will be held in Asia, and some 12,000 participants are expected to compete in 36 sports events and 13 arts and cultural activities from November 11 to 19 next year.

From heartbreak to bringing the Gay Games to Asia for the first time

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai noted the aim of the Gay Games was to promote equality and inclusion, and anyone was welcome to participate regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation and other backgrounds.

But unlike many international multi-sports games, the event was not an event recognised by the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Council of Asia or any international sports federation, he said.

The city’s Sports Federation and Olympic Committee and various local national sports associations would therefore not send athletes to join.

From left: Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai. Photo: SCMP / Nora Tam
From left: Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui Ying-wai. Photo: SCMP / Nora Tam

But Tsui said under current practice of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Gay Games, as a locally registered organisation, could book non-peak slots and peak slots of government sports facilities up to six months and three months in advance, respectively.

He said he was aware that the organiser had also approached some tertiary institutions, sports clubs, club houses to hire their sports facilities.

The organisers were in talks with 26 national sports associations or sports bodies to explore possible cooperation, including the provision of referee services, technical support and venue booking support.

2022 Gay Games offer chance to ‘empower’, ‘connect’: Hong Kong organisers

So far, 11 national sports associations had reached agreements with the games organiser, four had declined cooperation due to other issues, and discussions with the remaining 11 were in process, Tsui said.

The organiser could reserve related sports facilities up to 12 months in advance under the current policy after it secured the support from those associations, he said.

“The LCSD is pleased to provide necessary assistance and process their applications in accordance with the current procedure,” Tsui said. “In the coming days we will try to meet the organiser as much as possible to see how we can help under the existing procedures.”

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