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12 Jan 2009

Hong Kong activists and Christian legislators clash over inclusion of same-sex cohabitants under Domestic Violence Law

A government proposal to include same sex cohabitants to be covered under the Domestic Violence Law has attracted fierce opposition from Christian legislators, Hong Kong's Catholic Church and Christian organisations.

Speaking at a public hearing of the Legislative Council's Panel on Welfare Services on Saturday, Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung reiterated that the proposal was "only relevant to the policy area of domestic violence, and it enables same-sex cohabitants to apply under the ordinance to the court for an injunction order against molestation by their cohabiting partners." He stressed that the inclusion is to provide civil remedies to the victims concerned and does not confer any legal status to same-sex relationships.

Domestic violence is any type of abusive behaviour by one partner that attempts to gain and maintain control over the other. Domestic violence is when one partner consciously tries to, or does, manipulate and dominate the other. It is about power and control. Domestic violence can take many forms including physical violence, sexual assault, emotional abuse or social or financial control. Abuse does not have to be physical or sexual to be domestic violence. From Another Closet: Domestic Violence in gay and lesbian relationships (ACON)
His comments come as Christian groups and Christian legislators made known his opposition to the bill in recent weeks.

Although the Democratic Party had pledged in the legislature election last September that all their legislators would vote in favour of the bill, Wong Sing-chi, a Protestant legislator, has publicly opposed the bill. Himself and several other Catholic and Protestant legislators of the Democratic Party have also asked to be exempted from voting for the current bill.

Wong said in a radio interview on Jan 3 that although he does not oppose giving protection to same-sex couples, he objects to using the word "family" in the Chinese version of the law as it might lead to the legalisation of same-sex marriage. He suggested using "home" or "household" instead of "family."

His suggestion has been rejected by the government countering that the scope of "household" is too broad given that violence involving some people living under the same roof, such as between landlords and tenants, has never been regarded as domestic violence.

Cheung explained: "The proposal is made after taking into consideration the intimate relationship between same-sex cohabitants, as in the relationship between heterosexual cohabitants, which might entail similar special power interface, dynamics and risk factors and render the victims reluctant to report to the Police the abusers' acts of violence and seek redress under the criminal legislative framework."

The Domestic Violence Ordinance, which was enacted in 1986, covers married couples and heterosexual cohabitants. In August last year, an amendment to the ordinance extended coverage to former spouses or cohabitants, as well as immediate and extended family members.

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said in a press statement on Jan 5 that inclusion of same-sex couples in the law would "definitely lead to a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of the concepts of marriage and family, thereby undermining the foundation of our society." He also warned that "distorted concepts of marriage and family will bring about other serious consequences."

The cardinal further commented that the Democratic Party has taken the "undemocratic" action of not allowing Wong to vote according to his conscience, according to the Union of Catholic Asian News web site.

A number of Legislative Council Members urged the Administration to further extend the scope of the ordinance to include same-sex cohabitants when the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2007 was introduced into the Legislative Council to extend the scope of the ordinance to cover former spouses and former heterosexual cohabitants. The Administration then undertook to further amend the ordinance to include in its coverage same-sex cohabitants in the 2008-09 legislative session.

A coalition of LGBT groups in Hong Kong including Hong Kong Women's Coalition, Hong Kong Ten Per Cent Club, Rainbow Hong Kong and Rainbow Action has set up an online petition, click here to sign.

Activists at Democratic Party's office protesting certain legislators' opposition of the amendment which seeks to include same-sex cohabitants in the Domestic Violence Law

Hong Kong

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-01-12 20:24  
Sigh, these so called "christians" at it again, are up to their usual BS again.
No wonder there's always violence from the 3 faiths of people from the Book-cos they each want to rule the world with their beliefs.
Sad day.:(
2. 2009-01-12 23:28  
Sad day?? I say these people are really SAD! They just don't know how pathetic they are! Walking corpse without wisdom.
3. 2009-01-12 23:30  
Since when should we be at all concerned about Christian morals?
Laws are made by rational human beings.

4. 2009-01-13 01:47  
It becomes increasingly difficult for a decent person (and even less possible) for a gay person to remain affiliated with organised religion. The Christains (in this case) show their true stripes - gay people should be deprived of human rights...nothing to do with gay sex...nothing to do even with gay marriage...not showing care for adults or children affected by domestic violence...everything to do with trying to ensure an honest gay life is a second class existence compared with the lives that subscribe to the dogma. Nothing new here...this has always been how "love thy neighbor" works.
5. 2009-01-13 03:35  
I've seen a few cases of domestic violence that made some of them loose faith in heterosexual lifestyle don't we gays deserve an equal protection too?
there is an old saying......... so LAME..
Comment #6 was deleted by its author
7. 2009-01-13 07:56  
The religious right is not happy unless they are on a witch hunt or running inquisitions. The idea they are not opposed to gay people is an out right lie. They are. They are intent on stamping out anything that lends any moral justice and equal rights to the gay segment of the population. They should be seen for the arrogant and discriminating hate mongers they are. Yet we still march in and salute these hypocrites and worse yet funnel money to their coffers. They should not be allowed to lobby governments and they should be taxed the same as every one else. They are shameful self righteous bigots and would be best spending time and money on real causes, but they prefer to spread hate and lies. It's that simple.
8. 2009-01-13 08:22  
As an Anglican Priest myself (and a gay man), I am, to say the least, very disappointed by the opposition of my fellow Christian brethren to the law that would seek to protect victims of same-sex domestic violence. I used to do work with gay victims of domestic violence and they need legal protection.

Their opposition does not speak for other Christians who beieve otherwise. Christians are not a monolithic lot, but unfortunately, we who have a more progressive view often get lumped with those who oppose gay rights.
9. 2009-01-13 08:41  
Yawn, so much concern about the word household or family, what's the difference really?

Anyway, in more exciting news:

A gay Anglican bishop, Gene Robinson, is to give the opening prayer at festivities to kick off president-elect Barack Obama's inauguration, the organizing committee said Monday.

The selection of Robinson for the opening party on Sunday came after weeks of criticism over Obama's choice of conservative pastor Rick Warren to deliver the religious invocation on Tuesday, January 20, the day Obama is sworn in to office.

Robinson, who is the first openly gay bishop in the Anglican Communion, will pray at the star-studded event to be broadcast on national television from the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, the inaugural committee said in a statement.

"Our intention is to root the event in history, celebrating the moments when our nation has united to face great challenges and prevail," said executive producer George Stevens, Jr.

Now something for everyone, hope him and Rick Warren can sit side by side and be happy!
Comment #10 was deleted by its author
Comment #11 was deleted by its author
12. 2009-01-13 13:46  
I must say the Hong Kong legislative Council has more backbone & guts than majority of their Asian counterparts - they don't let ANY organised religion influence their policymaking, which is of utmost importance to any genuinely democratic society.
It's also great how their Labour Secretary Matthew Cheung first considers the needs of ordinary citizens- of whom, of course, includes same-sex couples- than worry wbout offending pompous people who are only concerned about keeping up with ridiculous status quos of yesteryear. Bravo!
13. 2009-01-13 14:41  
These so-called-Christians need to pull their hyeads in, individually or collectively they are a disgrave to the human race, and set a very bad example of Jesus Christs teachings and life style. I am a very proud Gay Christian involved in the world wide Metropolitan Community Church (for, by & too the GLBTI Community). Isnt it a shame that tthousands of Gay Christians like myself like myself have to create their own church (which insidently is now 40 years old) because of the other so called established churches who deny the right for Gays to worship as God loving individual in their church.

"Would Jesus Descriminate?" NO ! and nor should they. They should be setting an example of Love & caring for All in the entire community, not alienating fellow human beings because of their Race, Colour or SEXUAL ORIENTATION. Shame on them who believe but dont care...they only make a laughing mockery of themselves... no wonder there are so many variations of both Catholic & Prodistant Churches around the world. All believing in studid things such as what constitues the correctness of Holy Communion, and the caring of others, than themselves.

God created us because God Loves us, not to make someone whom God can bash or hate.

OMG says God, I accidently created another one of them Homosexuals, or Transvestites, oh well, I'll let the other humans deal with them as they wish. I'll get on with making more perfect humans to inhabit the Earth. NOT!!!!!!!

May God Bless You All Real Good.
Shane Andersen
Video Outreach

"Cuddlykoala" on fridae.com

14. 2009-01-13 18:16  
Let's start forming a group to actively encourage people to stay away from these proto-fascistic religions. Taoists and Buddhists should take this as an opportunity to actively proselytise their message of tolerance, peace and compassion. It is no longer good to keep quite about the inherent defects of the church. Jesus would weep at these his so-called representatives.
Comment #15 was deleted by its author
16. 2009-01-13 18:46  
This proposed law reform is aimed to give protection against violence to the person. Are the fundamentalist groups so opposed to personalities different from themselves that they cannot even agree that such persons require such basic protection as a matter of law?

Concepts are man made. If "family" and "household" cannot be agreed upon, then create one (eg. "domestic nucleus"?) and define it in the legislation!

That said, I applaud the Hong Kong Administration for their bold, robust and sensible approach to extend the application of the protection to same sex partners and yet allow debate against it. That is a lot more like a world city - compared to Singapore and its 377A debates.
17. 2009-01-13 19:21  
well i recently learned that homosexuals are found in more than 400 species of animal...

who we love comes from deep inside feelings...obviously not a choice to chose who we love...since we cant create feelings

Im also a christian but im sad to hear that these homophobes are using the religion as an escuse to discriminate us...

I wonder what these homophobes want..may be want a couple to stop loving,just bcos they are of the same sex.

every couple deserve to be protected...including those of the same gender.Non of LGBT people are disturbing lives of staight peoples..theres no point for them to disturb LGBT,I hope they(activists and Christian legislators)will soon mind their own business.
Comment #18 was deleted by its author
19. 2009-01-13 22:09  
It just once again goes to prove the myth of "christian love". There is no such thing.

These christians purport to care about reducing domestic violence, promoting family values, protecting children, or working for charity blah blah.

In reality, all they care about is getting more people to convert to their narrow minded bigoted and Dark Ages viewpoint.

Have you heard how the catholic charity st vincent de pauls in Australia is hounding one of their most long term dedicated charity worker through the (expensive) courts because she was not a catholic but merely a christian? These people do not deserve our respect.

Who was it who said "it is christians who give God a bad name"? I'm sure Jesus would be appalled. (Hey, if a child molester in a frock can pretend to speak for God, I can too!)
20. 2009-01-15 09:39  
by the way, if some people are against homosexual partnership &/or marriage, then they should go all the way & stand against heterosexual divorces as well..thank you =]
21. 2009-01-17 08:52  
The points of view of those people that say are catholic or Christian is very narrow.
The religion only serves economic interest and power to those people that practice it.
This world one day will be free of religion, of course that will be in 500 hundred years or more.
The religion has too many dirty businesses involve and unfortunately the women don't have any chance to get involve on it. This power is ONLY FOR MEN.

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