As with governors in colonial times, Hong Kong Chief Executives traditionally receive Foreign Correspondents Club membership and make an occasional visit. It’s an informal, off-the-record socializing-and-drinks thing, to give some face to the overseas press corps, diplomats, lawyers and other lowlife that hang out there. It shouldn’t be too onerous – yet the reports here and (with witness accounts in comments section) here suggest that Carrie Lam managed to screw it up.
Hong Kong had just been awarded the 2022 Gay Games. The usual official reaction when the city attracts even the lamest international event is to cheer it as an exciting economic boost and proof of Hong Kong’s world-beating all-round wonderfulness. In this case, Hong Kong beat Washington DC to follow Paris as host, and be the first in Asia – which sounds like a major opportunity to bask in civic glory. Yet Carrie can’t bring herself to welcome the news or commit serious government support.
She is reflecting the local administration’s extreme nervousness over gay rights in recent years. Since a liberalizing trend of the 1990s and 2000s, the official line has hardened against any move towards the obvious next steps of legal equality and same-sex marriage. This is neatly illustrated by the government’s bizarrely pig-headed insistence on appealing a court order to give a spousal visa to an expatriate same-sex couple.
The excuse is that the community is ‘divided’ on the issue. But in day-to-day life, most Hongkongers (as in the earlier decades) are uninterested and even oblivious about fellow citizens’ personal stuff. The Chinese Communist Party does not seem to care greatly about LGBT matters either, although some pro-Beijing groups have started to oppose gay marriage as an alien Western sort-of-pro-democracy idea – apparently to triangulate fundamentalist Christians into the patriotic camp. This may make sense (to relatively friendless pro-Beijing groups), as local hostility to gay rights emanates mainly from the evangelical Protestants.
These are mostly American-style Biblical-literalist cranks, who have somehow permeated Hong Kong circles, including conservative teachers and civil servants, over the last few decades. Carrie, as she explained at the FCC, is a Catholic, but clearly at the strict and obedient end of the spectrum. It has served her well as a blinkered bureaucrat – being good at implementing policy without questioning it.
For good measure, while digging herself into this hole at the FCC, it seems she also found a way to insult RTHK’s English service – while surrounded by some of the channel’s most appreciative listeners.
The whole episode would be partly amusing and partly pitiful, except that she was mixing with the people who keep key overseas audiences informed about Hong Kong. By all accounts, what they saw up close wasn’t impressive and does not bode well for a city suffering growing image problems.
Whoever awards these “Gay Games” ought to really make HK lose face and say “in retrospect, after the less than fabulous response by the HKSAR government, we now give the games to the nation of Taiwan!”
Pretty soon HK will start feeling more and more inadequate and add Taiwan to the list of self-created “competitors” after Singapore.
Whilst totally agreeing with everything said about Curry Lamb above I woul just to ask whether the events at the Gay Games are the same as at the Olympics? If so Usian Bolt could just ‘come out’ and then no-one will stand a chance (just like the British Paralympian team……allegedly).
Or are the events more aligned to the LGBT communities’ activities and involve various euphoria enhancing substances to enable peak performance? Just asking.
The Liaison Office is, right now, furiously booking the Govt Stadium for PLA Marching Band events on the Games dates.
I’ll eat my mouse pad if this Gay Games ever actually gets to HK.
The delicious irony, that the press should really drive home in questions is that CY Lam is in lockstep agreement with Joshua Wong’s dad on the LGBT issue.
As to the Catholics being a minority: not so in CY Lam’s Hong Kong (you know, the one where there are no octopus cards, because your chauffeur doesn’t accept it; where everyone in your family lives outside of Hong Kong and has a British passport; where 7-11 sells toilet roll, all your kids are educated abroad and everyone wears suits and has a huge pension*). In her Hong Kong, there are large numbers of Catholics: 2 of the 4 Chief Exoneratives for a start.
It’s sort of understandable — catholicism prepares you for bureaucratic greatness by attracting those who don’t think critically, those who can doublethink and will eagerly toe the party line and submit unquestioningly to an “infallible” authority, even if that authority is overtly corrupt, makes absolutely no sense and the party line is ludicrously far-fetched and self-contradictory. Swap out gold and white for red and green, guilt for self-criticism, indulgences for bribes and boom: you’re a natural party cadre.
Why, after a couple of decades of devout catholicism, you’re so adept at ignoring cognitive dissonance, you can even embrace and consolidate the terrible contradiction of serving two masters at war with each other — the communists who work tirelessly to overthrow the power of the papacy and the popes who have worked tirelessly to overthrow the power of communists since 1949’s Decree against Communism.
* As Revolution pointed out yesterday it’s possible in Hong Kong to live in weird little bubbles that are divorced from the reality of Hong Kong. The top echelons of our government seem to inhabit a particularly divorced bubble: far more expatty than the expats in this regard.
Sorry, Brits, you lot are the ones to blame here. If the colonials hadn’t been so cheap as to allow Christian missionaries to run all the best schools in Hong Kong, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now. People pretty much had to become a Christian to break into the upper-middle class, and I think that the public service professions attract ones that came out of that system extra-Jesusy. Teaching, social work and the civil service are practically lousy with them. It doesn’t occur to them that they’re in the minority because everyone they associate with is like that.
Ever seen a man angle for promotion by announcing his baptism to an entire 90-person department? Ugh.
LRE Good post. (and , so as to get my post accepted)
Must one be an “American-style Biblical-literalist crank” to hold the view that one man sucking on another man’s cock prior to having said cock inserted into his anal cavity is an unnatural and disgusting act undeserving of public approbation?
I think we should be told.
@Stanley Lieber – the word “unnatural” suggests that it doesn’t occur in nature. In fact, as any zoologist will tell you, homosexual behaviour has been observed in many animal species, not just homo sapiens. The fact that we don’t all do it doesn’t mean it is unnatural for those who do. And I don’t think gay men are seeking your approbation, just your tolerance to let them decide for themselves whom to love and how.
@pie-chucker: Game on!
@ Stanley Lieber, since anal sex is now a fairly common (and apparently fashionable) practice among heterosexual couples (your lack of worldliness surprises me), then maybe we should ban the institution of marriage altogether.
Given the overwhelming evidence that homosexuality is both widespread and commonplace in nature (here’s an un-exhaustive list of just mammals that swing both ways), yes you really have to be a crank in total denial of the facts and appeal to some sort of unnatural power like a deity to manage to ignore the rather obvious fact that the natural world basically behaves as if anything goes.
And then there’s one of our closest cousins, the ones we never invite to formal events: the Bonobos. Look those cheeky chimps up and then try to explain how anything in human sexuality is unnatural without bringing in some sort of unnatural deity/agent (and even then, you still have to ignore the implication that said deity almost certainly has a bit of taste for extreme porn, if he made Bonobos).
…a woman sucking on a man’s cock prior to having said cock inserted into her tuna sandwich is an unnatural and disgusting act…
isn’t it Stanley ?