Local and overseas experts discussed the issues and experiences relating to the protection of equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Hong Kong and the EuropeanUnion at the symposium.
Co-organised by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the European Union (EU) Office to Hong Kong and Macao, and the Gender Research Centre (GRC), the symposium was entitled “Working Together for an Inclusive Society : LGBTI Rights in Comparative Perspective”.
Bringing together local overseas experts and stakeholders under one roof, the event provided a platform for examining the LGBTI issues, and to heighten understanding of the impact of potential legislation on the society. The event was supported by British Consulate General Hong Kong, the British Council, and the Netherlands Consulate General in Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR.
Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Dr. York CHOW, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “As a global city, Hong Kong has an obligation to protect the equal rights of all vulnerable sectors and eliminate discrimination against them in the different aspects of public life."
The conference featured discussions and exchange of practical experience of the European Union and Hong Kong on introducing legislation to protect LGBTI rights, and its potential impact on business, education, religious organizations and the wider society. A number of reputed academic and legal professionals from different parts of Europe and the United States have specially made the journey to participate as speakers in the conference.
According to organizers, the key findings of the two-day event were as follows.
- It is possible to have a balanced approach, wherein both religious freedom and the right to non-discrimination can both be protected;
- The need to gather evidence of the experiences of discrimination faced by LGBTI people so we are aware of the areas where discrimination laws etc are needed;
- The need to educate people about who LGBTI people (including differences between them) are in order to foster greater understanding and mutual respect in society;
- The necessity of engaging different sectors of society, and the role that each can play in speaking out on behalf of equality from their own perspective;
- This symposium is only the beginning, and it is crucial to continue this dialogue and turn some of the learning points into positive action.