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First-ever int'l symposium on LGBTI rights held in HK

2014-08-30 10:54 Xinhua Web Editor: Yao Lan

Hong Kong and overseas experts discussed on Friday the issues concerning the protection of equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Hong Kong and the European Union at a international symposium.

This was the first-ever international symposium on LGBIT rights held in Hong Kong with the theme of "Working Together for an Inclusive Society: LGBTI Rights in Comparative Perspective".

The symposium was co-organized by Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), the European Union (EU) Office to Hong Kong and Macao, and the Gender Research Center (GRC) of the Hong Kong Institute of Asia Pacific Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, York CHOW, chairperson of the EOC, said that as a global city, Hong Kong has an obligation to protect the equal rights of all vulnerable sectors and eliminate discrimination against them in the different aspects of public life.

"In mapping out our approaches to promote LGBTI rights, we should look at what has been done in other jurisdictions who have dealt with similar situations and challenges. This symposium is an important opportunity for mutual learning, with the goal to achieve equal opportunities for sexual and transgender minorities. "

Vincent PIKET, head of the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao, said that any cultural, traditional or religious values should not be invoked to justify any form of discrimination, including discrimination against LGBTI persons.

"This important event will identify opportunities for advocacy strategies, and find ways to engage effectively with policy-makers to enact change in protecting the rights of LGBTI persons. Moreover, it will contribute to strengthening the bilateral co- operation between the European Union and Hong Kong," he added.

Susanne Y.P. CHOI, co-director of the GRC which pioneers in research on gender issues within Hong Kong, said that in recent years, many countries have worked to improve or protect the rights of LGBTI people in view of the recognition that regardless of an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity, all citizens should be able to enjoy their human rights.

She said that the symposium has provided a significant educational forum to understand more about the importance of protecting LGBTI rights, while respecting the diversity of opinions within society.

The full-day conference featured discussions and exchange of practical experience of the European Union and Hong Kong on introducing legislation to protect LGBTI rights, its potential impact on business, education, religious organizations and the wider society, and the creation of inclusive workplaces for LGBTI employees.

Over 200 participants from the academia and legal profession, private and public sectors, religious groups and NGOs attended the symposium held at the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Friday.

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