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The LGBTI year in review

We talk to the co-directors of Pink Dot, to discuss 2018 from the point of view of Hong Kong’s LGBTI community

Pink Dot 2018
By Douglas Parkes |
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This past year has been a landmark one for the city’s LGBT citizens. In July, the Court of Final Appeal sided with a lesbian expatriate, known in court as QT, and ruled that local immigration authorities must grant same-sex partners spousal visas previously available only to heterosexual couples. Also in the summer though, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government was not obligated to grant identical spousal benefits to employees in same-sex marriages as those enjoyed by their heterosexual colleagues. So how does 2018 rank in the eyes of those most affected by these decisions? Time Out Hong Kong meets with Abby Lee and Betty Grisoni, the co-directors of Pink Dot, one of Hong Kong’s largest LGBTI+ events, to talk about the good and bad of 2018.

How do you feel about 2018 now that it’s almost over?
Lee: It’s been a very good year for the LGBT community here. Even though results of the library issue [of LGBT books only being available on request] and Scott [Adams] and Angus [Leung]’s case [on spousal benefits] are still pending, overall we’ve had quite a few wins, like the QT case.

Was that verdict the highpoint?
Grisoni: That’s been going on for years and it was the first time that the word ‘lesbian’ was taken seriously. That was extremely important overall.

And what was the worst part of this year?

Grisoni: The library case was a low point. Not only was the LGBTI+ community distraught, but parents and the literary world in general. A lot of people got upset because it’s an issue of freedom of speech.
Lee: People should have the freedom to read what they want. The people who wanted these books banned say if kids read these books, they will turn gay. But does that mean if you read [true crime books], you’re going to be a serial killer?

Are you optimistic that the appeal in Alvin Leung’s case will be in your favour?
Lee: Yes, because they’re a loving, married couple and they deserve what every loving, married couple gets. We’re not asking for anything extra. We pay our taxes, so why are we not getting the same benefits? Why are we treated as second class?

How would you rate 2018 out of 10 for the LGBT community?
Lee: I would rate it an eight.
Grisoni: I’d say ‘good but can do better’. Maybe a B-minus? There are still things to do, but it’s still much better to be an LGBT person in Hong Kong now than 20 years ago.

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