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Hong Kong bishop enters gender assignment debate

Diocese asks Catholics to follow its lead as government seeks public input on gender-recognition legislation

Hong Kong bishop enters gender assignment debate

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing (center) and Father Robert Ng Chi-Fun (left) attend a meeting to explain the church's stance on proposed gender-recognition legislation in Hong Kong. (Image courtesy of Hong Kong Diocese)

ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

November 6, 2017

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Hong Kong Diocese has asked Catholics to follow the church's lead in opposing controversial gender recognition legislation during a public consultation period focusing on the controversial issue.

A working group was set up in mid-August by the diocese to express the church's stance on the government's consultation paper and on the gender recognition issue.

At a briefing on the consultation paper held by the diocese on Sept. 30, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing said that the church wanted to convey its stance on the issue among Catholics.

Father Robert Ng Chi-Fun told the briefing that the Catholic Church completely opposed so-called gender reassignment. The Jesuit priest said one's gender was already decided by God and that no one should change their gender.

The government's consultation paper follows the ruling and advice by the Court of Final Appeal in 2013 over a case involving a transsexual who married a man. The government set up an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gender Recognition (IWG) in January 2014. The group is to study whether it is necessary to introduce legislation and administrative measures to deal with issues concerning gender recognition in Hong Kong.

In June, the IWG published a consultation paper on gender recognition and solicited the views of the community on the issue.

In response, the Hong Kong Diocese issued advice to Catholics on the consultation paper which included 16 questions to collect public opinion on legislation of gender recognition. In its guideline, the diocese provided information reflecting the church's stance on the issue.

The guideline noted that the diocese "basically opposes the legislation and does not support the gender recognition initiatives." However, it said it would offer "love, compassion and pastoral care" to those troubled by gender-recognition issues.

The public consultations should have closed at the end of October, but it has been extended until to Dec. 31

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