Leave sexuality out of HK's toxic politics

July 24, 2019 10:27
Pro-establishment legislator Ann Chiang (L) has faced flak for raking up the private life of democracy activist and protest march organizer Jimmy Sham amid Hong Kong’s ongoing political crisis. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg

Most people dread the thought of having a gay or lesbian in their family. They care more about possible shame to the family than the well-being of the LGBT family member. I have a large extended family, which includes siblings, their spouses, children, the spouses of their children, and numerous in-laws. Most of them live in the US.

I had wondered how I would react if I had an LGBT relative in my large extended family. A few years ago I found out that a young US-born relative is gay. No one in my extended family minded.

Recently, a video circulated on social media showing Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, to be gay. Pro-government legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan shared the video, urging people to spread this “important” news.

Hong Kong has a large gay community. That’s why I can’t understand why Chiang thinks Sham being gay is particularly newsworthy, especially when he has never denied it. The only reason I can think of is that Chiang feels it’s newsworthy because Sham organized massive anti-government protests.

Hong Kong politics has already become too toxic. We saw that just last Sunday when protesters vandalized the Beijing liaison office, and white-shirted mobs savagely attacked MTR passengers in Yuen Long.

When Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor became chief executive she pledged to heal Hong Kong’s societal rift. Sadly, the storm over the now-suspended extradition bill has made that near impossible.

What we need now is a way out of the political darkness. There are no quick fixes but the last thing we need is to use sexual orientation to further divide society. Thankfully, most Hongkongers, whether or not they support LGBT rights, have avoided using sexuality as a political tool.

Sham did not use his sexual orientation to lure people into joining protests. Only Chiang knows why she urged people to publicize Sham’s sexual orientation just days before last Sunday’s march. I sincerely hope her motive wasn’t to dissuade people from marching.

Chiang taunted Sham for not having fully come out as gay because if he had he should not have complained about her sharing the video. But whether Sham has come out, partly come out, or not come out as gay is his own business.

It is, of course, Chiang’s free speech right to bring up Sham’s sexual orientation even in the current toxic environment. I just want to urge her not to poison the political atmosphere further. It does Hong Kong no good.

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A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.