International news: Hong Kong Rainbow Lions Spark LGBT Rights Debate

BBC NEWS: One of Hong Kong’s icons – a pair of lions guarding the HSBC building – has been given a rainbow-coloured makeover. Replicas of the two lions have been painted as part of the bank’s “Celebrate Pride, Celebrate Unity” campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights.

It’s a sight that might not be considered controversial in many cities – but in Hong Kong it has reignited debate about gay rights and whether corporations should get involved. Although Hong Kong is an international city, it is divided when it comes to social issues like LGBT rights.

In a 2011 survey, 22% of respondents said they were “not accepting” of lesbian, gay and transgender individuals, and a further 21% said they felt ambivalent or unsure. A quarter of respondents also felt it was “acceptable” or “sometimes acceptable” to not offer a job to an LGBT individual.

LW, a lawyer who asked not to be identified, says he considered LGBT discrimination to be “pretty serious in Hong Kong”.

“Though I think things are changing with the younger generation, discrimination is still quite rampant for the older generation – I am ‘out’ to my younger colleagues at work but not to my boss.”

The Hong Kong government has published anti-LGBT discrimination adverts – but has stopped short of implementing anti-discrimination legislation so far.

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