2011 Preview: Gay and Lesbian
Nigel Collett, secretary of the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting, talks to Oliver Clasper about the challenges that lie ahead in 2011 and why there’s cause to be optimistic.
Would you describe 2010 as a successful year for the LGBT community?
Yes, in the main. The year opened with the inclusion of same-sex couples in the protection offered by the amended Domestic Violence Ordinance (DVO), which, although the name was changed to placate conservative voices, nevertheless now protects those suffering violence at the hands of their same-sex partner. The government has also instituted training for police and social services to handle these cases. This is a big practical advance. In addition, we started to get our act together in campaigning for several issues that affect the LGBT community, and the effect of this will begin to be felt in 2011. The media, especially Time Out Hong Kong, has also been much more supportive. One very significant advance has been the start of the Community Business, Goldman Sachs and IBM campaign to improve LGBT diversity in Hong Kong business. The issue of their guide, the institution of their workshops and seminars and the subsidiary activities of their supporters (for instance in assisting the HKU QSA’s inclusion recruitment day) have started a momentum that will begin to improve the lot of LGBT employees at work and will change opinions, especially in government, as big business brings its needs to bear on governmental policy. On the downside, there was the lack of a Pride Parade, which was a pity, but not a disaster, as we created the Out in the Open festival of fun and diversity at the beach to stand in and this will supplement Pride in future, providing a social and fun event alongside the parade.
What specifically are you hoping to achieve over the next year for or on behalf of the LGBT community?
Three things: Firstly, we will be more active politically in 2011 on a range of issues, all tending towards the major one of a bill against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. Secondly, we hope that Community Business will introduce a published rating of the best ten companies for LGBT diversity practice in Hong Kong by the end of the year. Thirdly, we are working on the creation of a LGBT festival from November 2011, to include the Hong Kong Lsbian and Gay Film Festival, Pride, Mr. Gay HK and Out in the Open. Floatilla in October will be an out-rider for this and there will be small cultural and social events in the month. We aim to bring in foreign visitors and are working with the Hong Kong Tourist Board.
Are they any particular individuals we should keep an eye out for this year?
I’m looking forward to Tony Wong’s new show, Singlology, which starts on January 20th. Then there’s a young new performer named Clifton Kwan with a show It’s Oh So Queer on stage in mid-February. And I think gay musical maestro Frankie Ho will have another show for us later in the year, as will dancer Allen Lam. Meanwhile, Norm Yip, Patryk Chaou and Jimmy Chung will bring their fashion charity publication Fiftyfive to fruition. We can also expect another gay novel from Yezhiwei. Legally, watch solicitor Michael Vidler take on the government. Meanwhile, Conni Chan and Reggie Ho will be bashing away at the government too as always in pursuit of LGBT rights for us all. And watch Stephen Golden and Hill Lee help roll out Community Business’s LGBT diversity programme.
What message do you have for anyone outside of the LGBT community who is skeptical about whether Hong Kong can really become a more understanding and less sexually stunted society?
Everyone in Hong Kong, whether they know it or not, works, is friends with, or lives with a gay person. There’s nothing to be scared of. People with diverse sexualities or genders are pretty much the same as everyone else. And come on, they are probably only five per cent of the population, so they could never threaten the other 95 per cent. And don’t we want people to be honest about themselves? But gay and transgender people do need protecting, as they sometimes have a tough time, both at school and at work. We need to stop kids killing themselves because they are ostracised or abused.