Gay Games Begin in Hong Kong Despite Political Tension

Gay Games Begin in Hong Kong Despite Political Tension
Image: Gay Games 11 Hong Kong 2023/Facebook

The 11th Gay Games kicked off with their opening ceremony in Hong Kong over the weekend, despite backlash from anti-LGBTQ political leaders leading up to the games.

On Saturday evening, over 2,300 athletes from 45 countries were joined by world delegates and Gay Games federation members in attending the ceremony for the Gay Games Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong government approved of the competition making it the first Asian city to hold the inclusive competition. However, almost all government officials chose to not to attend the ceremony.

This comes after many anti-LGBTQ political leaders and activists called for its cancellation, with the Hong Kong Government warning organisers to conduct the games in a “lawful, safe and orderly manner.”

Government Officials Divided

The Chinese-ruled city does not recognise same-sex marriage and has no laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

This may change however with a recent high court ruling, which has lead to discussion of progressing LGBTQI rights among the city.

In September, Hong Kong’s top court provided the government 2-years to come to a consensus on gay-marriage.

This coincided with multiple pro-Beijing lawmakers publicly oppose the games. Legislative Council member Junius Ho requested the Chief Executive John Lee to be aware of a “soft resistance”of “bad ideologies” infiltrating the city, in a letter posted to Facebook.

Furthermore, five Hong Kong human rights activists called for the games cancellation in June, claiming organisers were aligned with “pro-authoritarian figures” that were persecuting “the people of Hong Kong.”

Despite prejudice from some government figures, pro-Beijing lawmaker Regina Ip was the only official who attended the opening ceremony in support.

During her welcoming speech, Ip said that “history is being created” with Hong Kong being the first Asian city to host the gay games in its 40 year-history.

“The holding of the Gay Games in Hong Kong is a strong testimony to the diversity, inclusion, and unity of our city,” said Ip.

“Equal opportunity and non-discrimination are highly treasured by our government and our people.”

Games Supporting Gender Inclusivity

Co-chair of GGHK Lisa Lam spoke during the opening ceremony, introducing the games’ all-genders category across multiple sports. The new category allows all genders to compete together within a sport..

“The vision of the Gay Games has always been to create a sports, arts, and culture festival that celebrates participation, inclusion, and personal best,” said Lam.

The Gay Games started in 1982 in San Francisco, and are now hosted by a different city every four years.

This year’s games will see Hong Kong co-host with Guadalajara, Mexico, dividing the amount of held sporting competitions across the two cities.

The games will continue to run through till the end of week, and finish on November 11.

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