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Activists, gay Catholics angered by Hong Kong cardinal's statement

Some parade participants say activism fueled by Cardinal Tong's opposition to same-sex marriage
Activists, gay Catholics angered by Hong Kong cardinal's statement

People take part in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride parade in Hong Kong on Nov. 7. (Photo by Isaac Lawrence/AFP)

Published: November 09, 2015 08:55 AM GMT
Updated: November 08, 2015 09:56 PM GMT

A recent message from Hong Kong's cardinal urging people to reject same-sex marriage will further alienate an already marginalized community, said advocates for the gay community in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's annual gay pride parade on Nov. 7 saw its largest turnout, with roughly 9,500 people taking part, according to organizers. Some participants said they attended this year's parade because they were outraged with a recent message from Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong.

In a statement released by the Hong Kong Diocese Nov. 6, Cardinal Tong criticized same-sex marriage and Hong Kong's proposed Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance, saying that recent social trends toward liberalism have been taken "under the guise of equality and the fight against discrimination."

But Tin Fung, who represents the Hong Kong Pride Parade, said the cardinal's message "ignored discrimination that gay people suffer in society."

"This would only push (gay people) further into the dark, becoming more marginalized," Fung said.

York Chow, chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said it was an "unfounded claim" that enacting an antidiscrimination law for sexual orientation, which is currently being studied, would lead to the legalization of same-sex marriages.

Cardinal Tong's statement urged Catholic voters in Hong Kong to support political candidates in upcoming local elections who uphold "the core values and key concepts of marriage and of the family."

Advocates with Compassion, a gay Catholic group, said it was regrettable that the cardinal viewed a political candidate's stance on gay rights as a deciding factor for support.

"It shows nakedly his homophobia as well as prejudice and discrimination against gay people, and the lack of understanding in equating 'antidiscrimination,' 'sex liberation' and 'same-sex marriage,'" the group said in a statement.

However, Auxiliary Bishop Michael Yeung said during a Nov. 8 church event that the cardinal's statement did not ask parishioners to vote for any specific candidates.

"The church doesn't have any enemy and it wouldn't criticize anyone," Bishop Yeung said. "It was only talking about a wrongdoing. For example, it is wrong to take drugs and we would say so, but we still love drug addicts."

Nevertheless, Cardinal Tong's statement has sparked a fierce debate among Hong Kong Catholics.

"The statement shows this topic has become too polarized for discussion," said Lai Chun-wing, a layman in his 20s.

"Some Catholics take the same stance against same-sex marriage. They just disagree with the approach," he said. "But the other side thinks no one should criticize the church or its view. So whoever criticizes becomes their enemies."

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