Showing posts with label Hong Kong. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hong Kong. Show all posts

January 12, 2020

Taiwan Solidarity rally in Support of Hong Kong~~What is China Going to Do?

Taiwan international solidarity rally in support of Hong Kong anti-China extradition protests on June 16. Photo was taken by Benson Tsang. Used with permission.
The project Chinese Cross-Border Question and Answer, sponsored by the Hong Kong NGO Culture and Media Education Foundation, reports on common concerns from Chinese communities in mainland China and abroad. The following post was originally written in Chinese and published on various websites, including and The English version is published by Global Voices under a partnership agreement.
Taiwan is holding presidential elections on January 11, 2020, to determine the course of its political and economic orientation for the next four years. The contenders are current President Tsai Ing-wen, Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu, and minority party leader James Soong.
Various polls in December 2019 indicated that Tsai of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) would win a landslide victory.
Many have pointed out that Hong Kong’s protests have contributed to Tsai’s popularity as the Hong Kong crisis was triggered by Beijing’s tightened control over its political and legal system. Besides, Tsai’s pro-Taiwan independence stand can serve as protection against Beijing's political influence in Taiwan. The Cross-Border Q&A team has interviewed a number of veteran journalists and news observers to explain exactly how the Hong Kong protests have affected Taiwan’s political development. They include Prof Kuan Chung-hsiang, a media scholar from National Chung Cheng University, Portnoy Cheng, founder of the PanSci news platform, and former editor of Chinese Global Voices, and Albert Tzeng former editor of Initium media,  and city councilor of the New Taipei district government.

Kuan Chung-hsiang. Screenshot from TED.
Kuan Chung-Hsiang:  The Hong Kong protests have a very significant impact. The popularity of the two major candidates Tsai Ing-wen and Han Kuo-yu was at a comparable level before July 2019, but after that, Tsai’s popularity surged and the gap between the two has since widened. I believe this has something to do with the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong.
The Yuen Long subway attack incident on July 21 was widely reported in Taiwan. Taiwanese people were shocked to see how the Hong Kong police were cooperating with the triads [crime groups who are associated with Beijing]. Han, who is pro-China, had visited the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong back in March 2019. For those who have been critical of the “China factor” that interferes with elections in Taiwan, this caused even more anxiety. Some even feel that if Han wins the election, the autonomy of Taiwan would come to an end. Such an “end of a statehood” sentiment is favorable to the pan-Green coalition which supports Taiwan’s political autonomy.
Of course, apart from the Hong Kong and China factors, Han’s image, his empty promise made during the Kaohsiung city mayor election, his decision to run for presidential election soon after he took up the mayoral position, and his shifting political stands have all contributed to the decline of his popularity.

Portnoy Cheng. Photo from
Portnoy Cheng: Hong Kong is a testing ground for the “One Country Two Systems”. After the city unified with China in 1997, its economy continued growing given that its administration is reputed for its effectiveness and no tolerance for corruption. This made it very attractive to Taiwanese who feel isolated and trapped on their island. That’s why when Hong Kong people stood out to resist China’s political encroachment, they were shocked. In the past, Taiwanese people paid little attention to Hong Kong. Even during the Umbrella Protests in 2014, a majority of the Taiwanese were not aware of those developments. However, in the context of the anti-extradition protests, the Hong Kong government has used the case of a murder committed in Taiwan involving Hong Kong citizens as the excuse for the legislation. The case inspired Taiwanese politicians to comment on the incident, which later turned into a dominant election campaign topic in Taiwan.
More and more Taiwanese have come to see that Han Kuo-yu and the KMT’s vision for the future development of Taiwan is to embrace and learn from China. The struggle in Hong Kong has told us that this path is not a way out. Such realization has definitely affected the popularity of the two candidates. However, the effect of a single political incident can hardly have a long-lasting effect. In Taiwan, middle-aged and older voters are very conservative and see economic and social stability as the most crucial value. Hence they cannot understand the protests in Hong Kong. Moreover, many politicians and opinion leaders in Taiwan have been confirming the Chinese government’s view that the Hong Kong protests are under influence of foreign forces, thus they support of Hong Kong police’s hard-handed crackdown. So we can’t over-estimate the impact of Hong Kong’s factor on the elections.

Albert Tzeng. Screenshot from TED.
Albert Tzeng: The one million people’s rally against the legislation of extradition law on June 8 2019 has shaken Taiwan. As the President of the Republic of China (ROC), Tsai Ing-wen expressed her support for the Hong Kong protesters. Two days later, the DPP conducted a popularity poll to decide on the party’s presidential candidate, and Tsai won over her competitor William Lai Ching-te and was thus set to run for her re-election.
Since July, confrontations between Hong Kong protesters and the police have turned violent and the situation has kept escalating as the result of such incidents as the Yuen Long subway attack, the rubber bullet hit a woman’s eye case, police firing live rounds. All these news have shaken Taiwan: under the so-called “One Country Two Systems”, democracy, freedom and human rights are being suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party, the de facto ruler of Hong Kong. In the past few months, the gap in popularity polls between Tsai and Han has become wider and wider.
Hong Kong’s protests have affected Taiwan political dynamics in four major aspects:
Firstly, in 2018 the axis of Taiwan’s political dynamics evolved around “economy and administration”. People then expressed their discontent with Tsai’s hasty social policy reform with their votes in local elections. However, in January 2019, after Tsai rebuked Chinese President Xi Jinping's new year speech on Taiwan, the public shifted their attention to the “China factor” and “cross-strait relations”. Since March 2019, as the anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong started, the political dynamics surrounding the “China factor” consolidated in a way that is favorable to the pan-Green coalition [parties supporting the DPP].
Secondly, Hong Kong’s protests have resonated in the context of intensified U.S-China diplomatic relations and trade war. The passing of Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in the U.S. uplifted the protesters. Hong Kong has thus become a bargaining chip in the U.S-China negotiation. This situation has brought back memories during the Cold War against communist regimes.
Thirdly, Hong Kong’s unrest has set a stage for President Tsai Ing-wen to perform her leadership. The Hong Kong protests have kept Taiwanese people restless, as they prefer the status quo more than ever. Such desire has sidelined Tsai’s competitor within DPP, William Lai, who is more supportive of Taiwan's independence. It is also a big blow for Han Kuo-yu, who had visited China's Liaison Office in March 2019 to reinforce his pro-Beijing image.
Fourthly, the pro-China blue camp [parties supporting the KMT] has changed its political stand thanks to Hong Kong protests. After one million people rallied in Hong Kong in June 2019, former KMT Chair and former new Taipei city mayor Eric Chu Li-luan expressed his support for Hong Kong protesters on Facebook, saying that “One Country and Two Systems is never an option for Taiwan”. Later on, Terry Kuo, Han Kuo-yu and other KMT members followed Chu’s political line. In October 2019, the “New Republic” a group, made of younger KMT members even put on the party's agenda a revision of the China policy of the pan-blue coalition.

Global Voices/mag

May 22, 2019

Hong Kong Changes Its Mind and Shows A Gay Commercial on Its Subway System


Danny Lee and Phila Siu

Hong Kong’s subway operator has pulled a marketing U-turn, reversing its ban on a Cathay Pacific advertisement featuring a same-sex couple and allowing it to be displayed at metro stations across the city.

In a response to the South China Morning Post, the MTR Corporation’s advertising handler – the French company JCDecaux – said the advert can now be displayed at subway stations.

The reversal came in the face of heated criticism of the ban, and less than 24 hours after the Post revealed that both MTR and the city’s airport had banned the advert because of its same-sex content.

“We have been in contact with the relevant advertising agency and have just confirmed to the advertising agency that the advertisement in question can be displayed at MTR stations,” a JCDecaux spokeswoman said in a statement.

The LGBT-friendly ad will now be able to go on display at subway stations like Central, one of Hong Kong's busiest.

The LGBT-friendly ad will now be able to go on display at subway stations like Central, one of Hong Kong's busiest.
The LGBT-friendly ad will now be able to go on display at subway stations like Central, one of Hong Kong's busiest. Photo: SCMP/Felix Wong

The advert was part of a rebranding campaign by Cathay Pacific to highlight its attitude to diversity.
MTR Corp initially deflected the decision to ban the advert back on the French advertiser, despite JCDecaux following the railway giant’s advertising guidelines. It later “requested the agency to fully consider the corporation’s commitment to equal opportunities and diversity when it considers advertisements in the future.”

Within a day, it appeared that Hong Kong’s government-owned subway operator had buckled under public criticism by overturning the decision.

“In the future, we will pay due regard to MTR Corporation’s commitment to equal opportunities and diversity when handling the placement of the advertisement,” the JCDecaux statement said.
Participants at the Hong Kong's gay pride parade in 2018. There are no restrictions on LGBT advertising in the city, but it remains conservative on LGBT rights.

Participants at the Hong Kong's gay pride parade in 2018. There are no restrictions on LGBT advertising in the city, but it remains conservative on LGBT rights. Photo: SCMP/Edward Wong
The city’s LGBT community had reacted sharply to the ban. An online campaign condemned MTR Corp and the airport for banning the same-sex advert.

Activists called on Hongkongers to take photos holding a picture of the banned advert at subway stations and the airport and to post the photos on social media.
Raymond Chan Chi-Chuen, Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker, said the ball is now in the airport operator’s court.
“[The] Airport Authority’s response on this was terrible,” Chan said. “But Cathay also has to get back to the authorities and press them on the matter.”

Danny is a contributor to Inkstone. He is a reporter for the South China Morning Post focusing on original reporting, investigative and breaking news, specializing in aviation.
Phila is a contributor to Inkstone. Over the years he has reported on a range of issues - including human rights, security, politics, society and sports - in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Rio de Janeiro, Europe, Macau and mainland China.

November 5, 2018

Pink Season in Hong Kong to Lawmakers: "We Are Ready for Equal Rights"

Pink Season event highlights call of Hong Kong’s LGBT community to lawmakers: we’re ready for equal rights, listen to society
Five weeks of themed activities held in the city up to November 3 raise discussion of recent legal milestones Campaigners applaud the progress made that may pave way for same-sex partners to enjoy rights equal to those of heterosexual couples 
LGBT campaigners have applauded key legal developments in Hong Kong that they say could eventually bring same-sex partners the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples.
And while warning that a hard fight lies ahead to secure those rights, they pointed to research that suggests the public is in favor of expanding legal protections for LGBT people.
In a forum on Thursday night, held as part of Pink Season, a five-week festival of LGBT-themed events in the city that ends on November 3, legal experts and researchers hailed a July ruling by Hong Kong’s highest court that granted a married British lesbian a spousal visa. She had initially been denied one.  
They are now following closely the outcome of a case involving gay civil servant Angus Leung, who is seeking the same spousal and tax benefits enjoyed by heterosexual couples for his husband.
Aaron Chan, a lawyer from the team representing Leung, said: “Gay rights are like any human rights issue: if you are a human being, no matter what ethnic group you come from, you deserve the same rights. That should be applicable to Hong Kong as well.”
Under Hong Kong’s Marriage Reform Ordinance (1970), marriage is defined as “the voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others”.
Leung, a Hongkonger, initiated a judicial review against the Civil Service Bureau in 2015, when it refused to grant his British husband Scott Adams spousal benefits and the right to declare their tax jointly, as is the case for heterosexual couples.
The case has gone back and forth in court, with the Court of First Instance initially ruling in favor of Leung in April 2017 on the benefits issue. But in June this year, the Court of Appeal overturned that decision.
Separately, on July 4, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that a British lesbian, identified as QT, should be granted a dependent visa on the basis that her wife, SS, held an employment visa to work in the city. The case was initially lodged in 2015 but suffered a setback in 2016 when a lower court ruled against it.
The July ruling for QT gave Leung and his supporters a boost, and last month it was confirmed that his appeal would be heard by the higher court, on a date to be set.
Speaking at an event attended by about 80 people, including legal experts, business leaders, and senior executives, Chan said Leung’s case highlighted the discrimination against LGBT couples.

“This is probably the first case in which we’re talking about same-sex marriage. What Mr. Leung wants to do is ask: if New Zealand heterosexual counterparts can bring their marriages to Hong Kong, why can’t he?”
If Leung wins his case, it will be a big step forward in obtaining equality for same-sex partners, but Chan said it was down to changes in public opinion that would eventually convince the government to accept a change to the law.
“It’s important for society to tell lawmakers: we are ready – listen to the majority’s voice and make this happen,” Chan said, referring to recent public surveys that indicate a growing acceptance of LGBT people in local society.
Philip Howell-Williams, a British financial consultant and director of Pink Season, said the QT case raised key questions for LGBT people in Hong Kong. Giving the example of same-sex couples who move to Hong Kong with children, he told the Post: “We know the child can only be registered to one parent because their marriage is not recognized. But now, if you can have a spousal visa, can the child be registered to both parents?”
Howell-Williams, who has been a leading LGBT campaigner in the city over the past three years, also described what he called the “potential disconnect between the local community and the expat community”. He pointed out that foreign same-sex couples could move to the city and have their marriage recognized, whereas native Hong Kong couples were not accorded such recognition.
This, Howell-Williams said, underlined the significance of Leung’s case, given Leung is a Hongkonger.
Peter Charles Reading, legal counsel for the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “there are many areas in Hong Kong where there is discrimination against same-sex couples”.

He noted several countries have introduced the option of civil unions – a legally recognized form of relationship – not only for same-sex couples but for heterosexual partners.
“The government needs to address these in a comprehensive manner, by seeing this as an issue of the human rights of couples,” Reading said.
Kelley Loper, director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law at the University of Hong Kong and another speaker at the event, expanded on the findings of a survey, released earlier this year, that found slightly more than half of the Hongkongers supported the right of gay couples to wed, up from 38 percent in a similar 2013 study, while 69 percent said they favored having a law to protect against sexual orientation discrimination.
“We found that a majority of people in Hong Kong do favor protecting gay and lesbian rights,” Loper said. “Even in 2013, there was already majority support for granting rights to same-sex couples. But by 2017, we’ve seen a statistically significant shift in favor of same-sex marriage.”
Angus Leung, who attended the event, told the Post of his frustration about the lengthy legal battle but said he was optimistic about a favorable outcome.
“The fight continues, and the whole process has been very long. But if this is what we have to go through to get our rights, we’ll do it.”

July 12, 2018

LGBTI Calls for Hong Kong to Reverse Its Decision to Hide 10 (LGBT-Theme) Children's Books

An international human rights group has called on Hong Kong’s government to immediately reverse its decision to hide 10 children’s books with LGBT themes from public view in libraries, warning the move sent a discriminatory message. 

In a letter to the head of the Home Affairs Bureau and its Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) on Wednesday, Human Rights Watch criticised the move to place the books in the “closed stacks” sections of local libraries. It said the arrangement limited citizens’ access to information about homosexuality and discriminated against LGBT youth based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
“Discriminatory placement of LGBT content in libraries not only sends a stigmatizing message that LGBT content is inherently inappropriate, but deprives people of their right to access information that could be important to their development, health, and safety,” wrote the group’s LGBT rights advocacy director Boris Dittrich.
Last month, Hong Kong public libraries removed children’s book And Tango Makes Three and nine other titles with LGBT themes to the closed stacks of the children’s section, meaning readers would need to file a request to borrow them.
They did so after an anti-LGBT group, the Family School Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group, complained to the LCSD in April about the books’ easy visibility. A gay-rights activist has applied for a judicial review of the decision.

Singapore’s public libraries similarly covered up LGBT-themed books – also including And Tango Makes Three – in 2014, but that was reversed following public outcry. However, the titles intended for children were still kept in the adult section.
Dittrich warned Hong Kong’s move could violate its international obligation to protect equality.
It would also contradict the spirit of Unesco’s public library manifesto, which states it should provide services “on the basis of equality of access for all”, he said.
The LCSD previously said it adhered to the manifesto, but would not use library materials to promote a specific belief or view.
Democratic Party lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu, who sat on the government-appointed Public Library Advisory Committee, said it was alarming for a public library to limit certain books, and that doing so was against the norms of an open society.
He added that public libraries were about to begin buying a new batch of books after the summer and that he hoped the same policy would not be evident in the procurement.

July 5, 2018

Landmark Ruling in Hong Kong Expat Couples Can Get Spouse Visas

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal on Wednesday (July 4) issued a historic ruling that paves the way for immigration authorities to issue dependent visas to legally recognized gay couples the same way they do for married heterosexual couples.
The ruling found that a British woman, known only as QT, faced “irrational” discrimination by immigration authorities in not being awarded a dependent visa to accompany her female partner, with whom she was in a legally recognized civil union, to Hong Kong. It upheld an earlier appeal court decision in her favor. The Court of Final Appeal said that it was “hard to see how the Policy’s exclusion, on grounds of sexual orientation, of persons who were bona fide dependent civil partners of sponsors granted employment visas promoted the legitimate aim of strict immigration control.”
Vidler & Co., the law firm representing QT, hailed the ruling on its Facebook page: “The court recognized the essential humanity, dignity, and equality of lesbian and gay members of our community and reaffirmed Hong Kong’s core principle, as enshrined in the Basic Law, of equal treatment for all under the law.”
QT had entered into a same-sex civil partnership with her partner SS in 2011, legally recognized under a 2004 UK law. Later that year SS was offered a job with a tech company in Hong Kong and secured an employment visa, while QT accompanied her as a visitor. That status didn’t allow her to work or study, and didn’t count her time in HK towards a permanent residence visa, unlike a dependent visa issue to a same-sex spouse. In January 2014, QT applied for a dependent visa, was denied, and in October that year sought a judicial review of the immigration department’s decision.
A lower court ruled against QT in 2016, which she appealed. Along the way, global financial firms expressed their support for QT to the court, on the grounds that a more inclusive policy would help Hong Kong-based firms continue to attract top talent. The Court of Appeals ruled in QT’s favor late last year, finding that current immigration policy was effectively discriminating against gay expat couples. The Hong Kong government appealed the decision to the Court of Final Appeal, resulting in today’s ruling.
The immigration department has already been issuing visas to same-sex dependent spouses of Hong Kong residents in partial compliance with last year’s ruling, according to Vidler & Co., but the status of those visas rested on the outcome at the Court of Final Appeal.
The judgment from a five-member bench was careful to make clear that it wasn’t trying to open the door for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, which conservative groups strongly oppose. Still, opinion about same-sex marriage is becoming more favorable, and this ruling could help lead to further acceptance.
A survey released this week by the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law found that half of the respondents said they were in favor of same-sex marriage, up from under 40% five years ago.

March 28, 2018

If You Are Straight and Can Marry Her You Get $65Million From Her Dad-By The Way She is Lesbian


 Gigi Chao, Still single, still lesbian

When Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao offered $65 million to any man who could win over his lesbian daughter and make her straight, he inadvertently laid the ground for her to become one of Asia’s most prominent gay rights campaigners.

The bizarre reward in 2012 grabbed international headlines and his daughter, Gigi Chao, was bombarded with thousands of marriage proposals from across the world – from war veterans to a body double of George Clooney in a sports movie.

It was the first time the issue of acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community had played out in such high-profile way in Hong Kong – a city modern in many ways but where social attitudes remain conservative.

“I am glad it happened,” Gigi Chao told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the office of her property firm is housed in Hong Kong’s third-tallest skyscraper overlooking the city’s harbour.

“It has been able to put a comic spin on a topic that is often marred by a lot of tragedies and taboos,” said the 38-year-old, wearing a sparkly rainbow-coloured jacket.

The elder Chao - whose property empire invests in Hong Kong, China and Malaysia - put the $65 million “marriage bounty” on his daughter’s head after she entered into a civil partnership with her girlfriend in France in early 2012.

After failing to find any suitors, the 81-year-old billionaire doubled the offer to HK$1 billion ($127 million) in 2014.

This prompted Chao to pen an open letter published in Hong Kong newspapers which said: “Dear daddy, you must accept I’m a lesbian” and urged him to treat her partner like a “normal, dignified human being”.

Such a public feud in a well-known family would have been remarkable anywhere but was particularly unusual in Asia when no country in the region at that time recognised same-sex marriage.

It was only last year that the Taiwan’s constitutional court paved the way for the island to become the first place in Asia with gay marriage after it ruled in favour of same-sex unions.

Today Chao is not only the heir to her father’s property business and one of Hong Kong’s richest women, she is also the most recognisable face campaigning for LGBT rights in the city.


Homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.

But despite the city enjoying freedom of speech and assembly, it does not recognise same-sex marriage and campaigners say LGBT people still face widespread discrimination and often come under family pressure to marry and have children.

Transgender people are recognised if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery but activists have been lobbying to remove this requirement.

A proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation has been under discussion in the city’s legislature, the Legislative Council (LegCo), but there is no clear indication whether it will be adopted.

“It is disappointing in that LegCo doesn’t have the forward vision or the courage to put something forward like this in fear of offending the traditional groups,” Chao said.

But where the government has failed, is where Chao believes businesses can step in to take the lead.

The businesswoman has been using her influence in high society to forge a coalition of allies to mobilise support.

“What we found to be most effective is to engage top executives and allow them to see how inclusion, diversity and equality is something they should, and they shall, stand for and let it cascade down the organisation,” she said.

“There are a lot of notable organisations which have been doing that. Engaging the government is more difficult.”


There have been other signs of growing acceptance.

Hong Kong is set to become the host of the 2022 Gay Games, a sports and cultural event dubbed the “Gay Olympics”, after fighting off bids from cities in the United States and Mexico.

In a rare victory, a Hong Kong court last year ruled that a British lesbian whose partner worked in the city should receive a spousal visa.

The charity Big Love Alliance - of which Chao is a founding member - organises an annual Pink Dot gathering to campaign for LGBT rights and it has attracted sponsorship from embassies and investment banks.

Chao also works with the United Nations on LGBT rights and became the first Asian to be named as the top LGBT executive on an annual OUTstanding list compiled by the Financial Times which ranks LGBT role models in business.

A qualified helicopter pilot, Chao said the marriage bounty episode did not tarnish her ties with her father - who like her also shares a passion of flying.

“You build a much stronger bond in these relationships after you have been able to live your full self, be a full person and live as an honest person in front of your mum and dad,” she said.

“It is an important process to go through although in the short term it does jolt them into a bit of shock.”

But in a signal that there is still a long way to go for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, Chao said she and her partner have had to temporarily put aside the idea of having children.

“Even for people like me - who many perceive as having all the resources in the world to do whatever I want in some ways - it is very difficult,” she said.

“It is not easy because you can’t do it in Hong Kong or anywhere else in Asia.”

by Beh-Lih-Yi

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February 17, 2018

Gay Singer Denied Permit to Perform in the New Homophobic Malaysia

 Denise Ho Outspoken Gay Singer from Hong Kong

Hong Kong pop star Denise Ho says she has been denied a performance permit in Malaysia over her views on gay rights.
Ho, who is openly gay and outspoken on LGBT issues, had been scheduled to perform in Kuala Lumpur in April.
A Malaysian government minister did not confirm why her permit was declined, but told journalists that performances had to comply with "local values".
Homosexual activity is illegal in Malaysia under both secular and religious laws.
About 23% of Malaysia's population are ethnic Chinese, and Cantonese pop culture and songs are popular with many there.
In a post on Facebook, Ho apologised to fans for cancelling the show, and said her team had been told by phone that she would not be permitted to perform in Malaysia "because she is an active supporter of the LGBT community".
She received an official rejection letter on Thursday, which did not explain why her application was turned down, but said: "A number of issues need to be addressed if the artist is brought in for the performance of this country."
Ho is no stranger to controversy - she was one of the first celebrities to be arrested for participating in Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2014, and angered many in mainland China after she posted a photo of herself with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Malaysia's communications and multimedia minister Salleh Said Keruak told journalists from the Thomson Reuters Foundation: "Malaysia welcomes any artist who projects a wholesome value."
All shows had to be in accordance with "local law and values", he added, without specifying why Ho had been barred from performing.
Meanwhile, an employee at the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, who did not wish to be named, confirmed to BBC Chinese that Ho's permit had been denied because of her role as an LGBT activist. The influence of religious hardliners has grown in Malaysia in recent years, often pitting religious fundamentalists against those campaigning for greater rights for the LGBT community.
Last year, the health ministry launched a contest for the young on how to "prevent" homosexuality, sparking protests from activists that it could increase hatred and violence against LGBT people. The ministry later made changes to the competition.
The release of Disney's Beauty and the Beast was also postponed in Malaysia, because it contained "a gay moment" - although Disney refused to remove the scene and the censorship board eventually conceded to show the movie uncut. 

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September 30, 2017

Sex, Drugs and Gay ChemSex in Hong Kong

Years of hiding his sexuality from family and friends had left him wary of expressing his true feelings and worried that his true identity would not be accepted by those he loved.
 Even this afternoon, when Jack has summoned the courage to reveal the most intimate aspects of his journey to a complete stranger, he feels the need to remain cautious. 
Chemsex involves bingeing on drugs and having sex with multiple men. Drug availability and mobile apps make hooking up easy, but the risks include addiction, HIV and depression. We talk to victims and those trying to help 
Hence the request to use “Jack” rather than his real name. And hence the fact that while he’s opening up verbally, Jack’s also clutching a large cushion tightly to his chest, as though there’s still a need to keep a layer of protection between himself and the world.
Jack is among a growing number of Hong Kong men caught up in a cycle of “chemsex” binges – with an array of drugs taken over days and sex with multiple partners – and the dark days that follow, when the drugs wear off and a fierce depression sets in. His longest sex-and-drugs session lasted 24 hours.
The 30-year-old started to seek help when – following a particularly intense weekend of drug taking and sex – a dispute with his boss led to thoughts of suicide and Jack found his life spiralling out of control.

“In 2015, I left the office and stood there thinking about walking onto the East Rail Line,” Jack says. “The cloud from the drugs was still there and I just couldn’t think logically. It was all based on emotion, and I had lost control of my emotions.”
The official numbers – supplied to the Post by the Department of Health – read that, among men who have sex with men, the prevalence of chemsex remained at around 11 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
“Poppers (amyl nitrate), drugs for erectile dysfunction and methamphetamine [Ice] are the top three common drugs used by MSM [men who have sex with men] in 2016, while gamma-hydroxybutyric acid [GHB] and ecstasy ranked fourth and fifth,” the department says.
You just want sex. The good feelings come up and it’s overwhelming
As well as the risk of drug addiction, chemsex between couples or at parties with multiple partners increases the risk of HIV infection, as caution is forgotten during the charged-up sex sessions.
“You don’t really think about condoms or even lubricant,” says Jack. “You just want sex. The good feelings come up and it’s overwhelming. Bad thoughts and bad memories just disappear. You find a place to escape … but it is short-lived.”
Jack – and others within the gay community the Post talked to – believe the numbers of those involved in chemsex in Hong Kong have risen over the past five years, due to the availability of the drugs and the continued rise in use of apps such as Grindr, which they say take the hard work out of hook-ups for sex. Personal profiles will include icons such as an ice-cream to let users know what the person is looking for.
“I started with chemsex in 2009, starting with poppers offered to me at a sauna in Mong Kok,” says Jack. “I found the feeling pleasurable and I could just enjoy myself and not worry. I became curious and wanted to try more and more. In 2011, I moved on to meth. It is easy with social media to find someone interested at any time of the week, if you want. There are people who will provide the drugs and the venue.”

The term “chemsex” was first derived by London-based Australian David Stuart, whose arrest on drug charges in 2005 led to his research into the problem – and to the opening of the world’s first chemsex support programme at a clinic in London’s Soho district. A 2015 documentary by digital media company Vice introduced the issue to a wider audience.
In an interview with Agence France-Press in July, Stuart said the term defined the “use of drugs for sex” and was associated with “certain behaviours such as hooking up online, high number of partners and high prevalence of HIV and sexually-transmitted disease”.
London is considered the world’s “chemsex capital” and Stuart estimated that, of the 7,000 to 8,000 gay men who use his clinic, “three thousand are using chems and are coming here with the consequences of chemsex”.
Stuart believes a common theme heard from many attracted to chemsex sessions – which can last for days and include multiple partners – is that they are searching for intimacy as well as escape. Jack agrees.
  “I think it is about the stress,” says Jack, who reveals that although he has come out to his parents, they still expect him to marry a woman and have children.
“Stress, both in the gay community and outside of it. The gay community in Hong Kong is obsessed with being masculine, and fit, and they reject those who are a little bit sissy, obese or even overweight. People are obsessed with the outward appearance. But in chemsex it doesn’t matter. I felt like I could be who I was and not worry about what anyone else thought about me.”
Chau Chun-yam has assisted the gay community in his role as a social worker with The Boys’ & Girls’ Club Association of Hong Kong for the past 10 years. Two years ago the NGO reacted to a rise in drug addiction among gay men by starting a prevention and treatment programme. He has seen an increase in the number of gay men reaching out for help with the associated problems, and also with the desires that make chemsex an attraction in the first place. 
“The rise in the number of gay men using drugs during sex was really first noticed in 2010,” says Chau. “The issue has been around for quite a long time, but it seems to be getting more serious. More and more people are using drugs, and networking apps have made it more visual in the gay community.
“Chemsex is not the same as drug abuse. People not only get addicted to drugs – they get addicted to the super high created by sex and drugs together.”
Chau and his team have set up their own account on Grindr to offer information and advice for those looking for help, including online and face-to-face counselling, while they are currently working with the University of Hong Kong on chemsex research.
“We try to increase the motivation for change,” says Chau. “We try to set up face-to-face counselling, try to support clients by finding out what kind of function the drugs provide for them and advise them on how they can restructure their lives. It’s like any addiction.”
Chau says there are common traits among those he has worked with. “Often they have difficulty coming to terms with their own sexual orientation. They have a strong sense of isolation and shame about their sexuality. A chemsex party is a way of connecting with people. It’s not a healthy way but it’s a substitute for the intimacy and acceptance they really want.”

 Chau adds: “Chemsex is an artificial way of connecting with people. And the combination of drugs and sex can look attractive for a while, and give a sense of that connection. Drugs are initially used as a way to cope with the shame and loneliness they feel as gay men, but soon it becomes an even bigger problem that is difficult to quit.”
He says another common concern is the risk of HIV infection. “For many men with HIV, particularly those who are newly infected, chemsex is a way of escaping the stigma of being infected,” he says. “To help gay men quit chemsex, you have to be able to support them to accept their sexuality and HIV-positive status, and help them build positive relationships with others.”
Although there are obvious psychological forces at play – certainly in terms of addictions – the use of illicit drugs means chemsex falls under the remit of the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau.
A spokesman for the Narcotics Division says the Hong Kong government has adopted a “five-pronged strategy” to deal with drug abuse – preventive education and publicity, treatment and rehabilitation, legislation and law enforcement, external cooperation, and research.
There needs to be strong motivation for change
“A 24-hour telephone helpline and instant messaging service manned by social workers are made available for people with drug problems, including hidden drug abusers and sexual minorities, to seek help,” the spokesman says.
Other initiatives include the Beat Drugs Fund, which “supports the organisation of anti-drug projects addressing the needs of different target groups, including those of hidden drug abusers and sexual minorities”.
But the law is the law, and if you get caught with illicit drugs, you’ll be arrested.
Jack says his struggle continues. He last dipped back into the chemsex scene a month previously and the fight against temptation is a weekly battle, particularly on weekends when he has time on his hands. But the desire to move on is strong, and that is the first step forward, according to Chau.
“There needs to be strong motivation for change,” says Chau. “But people need also to know that there are people willing to give them the support they need.”
South China Morning Post
Mathew Scott

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