Planet Ally Attends Hong Kong Pride Parade 2018
Human Dignity Festival Delegates attending the Hong Kong Pride Parade 2018 to protest the #FreeMyLibrary campaign. The march which went from Causeway Bay to Central on Saturday, November 18.
Planet Ally’s protestors for #FreeMyLibrary Photo: Athena Lam
Earlier this year, the Hong Kong government took active anti-LGBTQ measures. One of them includes banning 10 books from Hong Kong’s public libraries, which is why Planet Ally’s group were protesting with a rainbow penguin (homage to And Tango Makes Three). The non-binary rainbow penguin’s name is Bert, and they’ve joined the #FreeMyLibrary campaign that started because of the 2014 Singapore book ban. The Human Dignity Festival delegates were stood in front of Hong Kong’s Central Library to draw local media attention to the cause before the Hong Kong Pride parade began.
Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community and allies flowed from the Causeway Bay MTR station into Victoria Park to gather for the march. According to the organizers, over 10,000 attendees nonetheless persevered to attend the largest Pride march yet for Hong Kong, while Hong Kong police estimated about 4000.
Crowds gathering behind event rally banner Photo: Athena Lam
Stay fabulous! Duke DeAndre Richardson of Hanumanteshwar Photo: Athena Lam
Prince Manvendra chatting with Anis while waiting. Photo: Athena Lam
This year’s Hong Kong Pride Parade was jointly organized by the a coalition that included the Association for Transgender Rights (跨性別權益會), Gay Harmony (大同), Les Corner Empowerment Association (女角平權協作組), Rainbow of Hong Kong (香港彩虹) and Pride Lab. The theme focus is ‘Call for the law, equality for all’, an overt push for greater LGBT+ rights and legal protection.
Supportive students for #FreeMyLibrary protest! Photo: Athena Lam
Other landmark events in September this year included, Hong Kong’s courts granting spousal visas for same-sex partners married in other countries, followed by a disappointing Chief Executive’s 2018 Policy Address that stated in Article 251 that “The HKSAR Government has been committed to promoting equal opportunities for people of different sexual orientations and transgenders on the basis of upholding the existing institution of monogamy and heterosexual marriage” (emphasis added). In other words, Hong Kong is LGBT+ expat-friendlier, but the needle has not moved for the 99% of locals and migrant workers. Hong Kong’s LGBT+ community has been waging multiple legal battles in addition to same-sex marriage that includes gender recognition for trans individuals, protection from domestic violence
. For example, rape protection only extends to individuals with female gender markers on their ID, meaning transwomen and men are excluded.
The media. And sign language available throughout! Photo: Athena Lam
The Hong Kong Pride Parade began in 2008 and continues to be lead by local organizations. Hong Kong’s communities can largely be categorised as expats, local (Cantonese Chinese), and additional marginalised groups, which include local South Asians, migrant workers largely from Southeast Asia and migrant workers from Mainland China.
Pre-March Rallies and Pride Parade’s Main Stage
The Emcees on the main stage welcoming the groups. Photo: Athena Lam
Before the march, the main stage introduced the represented groups at the march. Planet Ally and Human Dignity Festival delegates also took the stage to spread awareness and visibility.
Planet Ally’s international presenters welcomed on stage. Photo: Athena Lam
Gabriela Hong Kong inviting attendees to Migrants’ Pride. Photo: Athena Lam
One of the next groups to take the stage was Gabriela Hong Kong, which represents LGBT+ Filipino migrant workers, most of whom are domestic helpers. Three group leaders had come to show solidarity for the local community as well as invite attendees to their march the next day.
Canada, the US, UK, France, the EU, Czech Republic, Finland, and more! Photo: Athena Lam
Many consulate generals (Hong Kong doesn’t have embassies) also publicly supported the event and took turns to express congratulations and show their support. Delegates represented the EU, Canada, the Czech Republic, the US, France, Australia, Finland.
Hong Kong Pride’s Ambassadors included Amanda Lee, Legislator Hon Claudia Mo, Dr. Alfred Chan Photo: Athena Lam
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The Asia Pacific region is a series of battle grounds for LGBTQ rights, for everything from same-sex marriage, to gender marker changes in ID and gender neutral washrooms, to the removal of discriminatory laws. Two years ago, Taiwan’s court voted to change the constitution to allow same-sex marriage, which was a landmark win felt throughout Asia. Now, on the weekend just following Hong Kong’s Pride March, Taiwan will have a national referendum on whether to not change the constitution due to legislators caving to traditional marriage activists. LGBTQ individuals from Mainland China, which is increasingly cracking down on human rights, also cross the border to attend.
Matcha Phorn-In is a Thai human rights activist and proud lesbian mom. Photo: Athena Lam
Before the March
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohi being interviewed. Photo: Athena Lam
Planet Ally’s delegates, including Prince Manvendra as the world’s first openly gay member of royalty, were interviewed by local media outlets. Prince Manvendera Singh Gohil is the founder and chairman of the Lakshya Trust and was one of the first to pick up the penguin signs, smile and take a photo with anyone, and answer journalists’ questions from the moment he arrived and right through eating his sandwich.
Anis Akhtar, Founder of Disabled & Intersex UK-Asia. Photo: Athena Lam
Other delegates interviewed included Anis Akhtar, an out intersex and disibilities activist from the UK, Samoan-Australian trans-female performer Amao Leota Lu, Australian academic and entrepreneur Elise Stephenson, and Thai human rights activist Matcha Phorn-In.
Elise Stephenson, Co-founder of Social Good Outpost. Photo: Athena Lam
Hong Kong Pride Parade Marching Route
The many volunteers who help make Hong Kong Pride happen. Photo: Athena Lam
This year is the 10th year since the first Pride March in Hong Kong, which had begun as a small demonstration on the side walk that went from Wan Chai to Central, about half the length of the march route in recent years. Unlike places like San Francisco, New York, Toronto, London, and Sydney, this event is a political rally and march — free of floats and sidewalk barricades, though increasing in logos and corporate banners.
The marchers take off. Photo: Athena Lam
Once the presentations are done, the MCs will direct the crowd towards the entrance of Victoria Park, where the large rainbow flag is held. Planet Ally’s penguins were also ready to march!
March of the rainbow penguins squeezing through Hong Kong’s buildings. Photo: Athena Lam
Hong Kong’s Pride march has grown significantly since its earliest days. Now, the march is granted part of the vehicle road following the tram line, the main artery for Hong Kong Island, but remains free flow and easy for marchers to join or exit at any time.
Closing one direction of Hennessy Road is a big deal in Hong Kong. Photo: Athena Lam
I’d also like to highlight that Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community has been making strides in being more inclusive, with giving space to trans, genderqueer, non-binary and intersex communities.
The spirit of Pride – bringing out and celebrating fabulous strangers. Photo: Athena Lam
Below are some additional photos from the march.
Hong Kong’s Parade is still intimate enough for everyone to pass the flag. Photo: Athena Lam
UK Disabilities activist Anis Akhtar marches with local Hong Konger Edna. Photo: Athena Lam
A huge thanks to all the volunteers. Photo: Athena Lam
At the end of the day, Prince Manvendra and Duke DeAndre of Hanumanteshwar (AKA The Gay Royals) Photo: Athena Lam