Eight LGBTQ groups have expressed deep disappointment with Chief Executive Carrie Lam, saying questions on equal rights were ignored during her live Q&A session on Friday night.
As part of a consultation exercise for her October policy address, Lam appeared for 48 minutes, taking around 30 questions.
Questions were chosen by two moderators, who alternated between a random draw of previously collected questions, and a selection from the live comments. Lam addressed topics including immigration, housing, the economy and livelihood issues, but was not challenged on LGBTQ issues, despite them being among the top three subjects asked.
“It does beg the question of how the hosts managed to miss one of the key questions that was [the] second most mentioned during the live feed,” Hong Kong Equality Project spokesperson Billy Leung told HKFP.
Viewers left 399 comments containing the term “sexual orientation,” 35 comments containing “gender recognition,” and 31 comments containing the term “sexual” or “gender minorities” during the live stream.
The eight LGBTQ groups saved the comments and took note of the questions that the moderators chose from the comments. They found that one-way permits – which allow mainland Chinese migrants to settle in Hong Kong – were mentioned 572 times, while “housing” and “land” were mentioned 250 and 242 times respectively.
The groups noted that Lam addressed topics including student pressure and green finance, though they only found one mention of each topic in the comments.
The groups called on the chief executive to make sure that the interdepartmental working group on gender recognition finalises all its tasks and produces a report of its final recommendations within her term.
Leung said there were many who asked the chief executive to speak about legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQ people.
“It clearly shows that Hongkongers have a demand for the legislation, but the two moderators kept avoiding those questions, inviting suspicions of whether they had decided together beforehand not to answer LGBTQ-related questions.”
The statement was signed by Action Q , GdotTV, Hong Kong Equality Project, Nu Tong Xue She, Pink Alliance, Queer Straight Alliance HKU, Queer Theology Academy, and the Transgender Resources Center.
In a response sent to Ming Pao, Lam’s office said that she was unable to respond to all questions owing to time constraints, and that she hoped to have more online interactions with the public in the future.
A government spokesperson said it was necessary to proceed with caution with gay rights, as society was split about legislation against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. They said it was a complex and contentious topic.