Hogan Lovells supports the pride of Hong Kong with a high profile panel discussion on LGBT rights
11 June 2015
HONG KONG, 11 June 2015 – While Hong Kong is relatively tolerant of the LGBT community compared to its neighbours in the region, Hong Kong does not have any legislation to protect LGBT individuals from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Hong Kong is also far behind its Western counterparts in the areas of public education, community investment and local business support. To maintain its status as Asia's world city and to continue to attract top international talent, Hong Kong can no longer ignore an increasingly visible minority of the population.
On 10 June, Hogan Lovells-branded diversity networking group Breaking Barriers hosted a high profile panel discussion on the political, business and cultural issues affecting the LGBT community in Hong Kong, and what the public and private sectors can do to encourage inclusion of the LGBT community in the workplace and in society.
Moderated by Hogan Lovells partner Eugene Chen, chair of the firm's LGBT Network in Asia, the panel included esteemed speakers from government, community and business, including, among others:
- Regina Ip, member of the Legislative Council and Executive Council, and co-founder and chairperson of the New People's Party and Savantas Policy Institute;
- Dr York Chow, chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission;
- Reggie Ho, co-founder and former chairman of Pink Alliance;
The panel discussed the lack of political will and government incentive to implement new legislation in Hong Kong and a lack of understanding by public educators and local business owners around sexual orientation and gender identity. While large multinational corporations are leading the charge in establishing diversity and anti-discrimination policies in the workplace, they only represent a minority of the business community in Hong Kong. The consensus was that LGBT rights need to be promoted as fundamental human rights and the responsibility falls on local businesses and community groups to propel legislative change.
During the panel discussion, Regina Ip said:
"We need to promote LGBT rights as fundamental human rights and this cannot be done through a referendum as public opinion will be divided."
Dr York Chow said:
"The misunderstanding around sexual orientation and gender identity comes from a general lack of sex education in public schools, especially in religious schools, as educators are not equipped to address questions about sexual orientation."
Reggie Ho said:
"Ultimately the Hong Kong judiciary system is forced to decide on LGBT policy issues as the government deems LGBT policy issues to be of a low priority."
About the Hogan Lovells LGBT Network in Asia
Recognising the challenges that LGBT individuals face in the workplace in Asia, Hogan Lovells launched an LGBT Network in 2012 to discuss LGBT workplace issues and provide mentoring and sponsorship to LGBT lawyers in Asia. In recognition of our efforts, Hogan Lovells was featured as one of the leading firms for diversity in the Asian Legal Business Diversity List 2015.
About Breaking Barriers
Breaking Barriers is a branded diversity networking platform set up by Hogan Lovells. Its aim is to bring professionals together and foster an environment where they can share their experience and network with like-minded individuals.
Since 2009, Breaking Barriers has hosted over 50 different and unique events across Asia and Middle East. We organise topical seminars on a variety of subjects ranging from diversity issues, leadership, current affairs, business success stories, art, history and charity events.