This past Sunday, hundreds of thousands of French demonstrated in front of the Eifel Tower in Paris against President Francois Hollande’s proposal to allow same-sex marriage. That same day, tens of thousands of Christians in Hong Kong protested at the Tamar government headquarters park against a public consultation on same-sex marriage laws.
In France, about 340,000 people marched the street, according to police estimates, while organizers indicated a turnout of more than 800,000.
“There are many people who are worried about this law,” Laurent Wauquiez, a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said on Europe 1 radio. “Do we have to destroy the family and the place of children in it? We must pay attention to the place of children.” Wauquiez joined the demonstration.
“This doesn’t just concern same-sex couples, it’s a fundamental question for society,” former Interior Minister Claude Gueant said. “Instead of presenting this law to parliament, the president should allow the people to decide. No one can argue with that.”
The bill is scheduled to go to the National Assembly at the end of January.
In Hong Kong, organizers of the demonstration emphasized that society should be inclusive and caring towards homosexuals, but not equate “not in favor of homosexuals” as “discrimination.”
The Christian protestors said that an “anti-discrimination law” would create “reverse discrimination.” Organizers hope that the government can deal with homosexual issues through milder means rather than legislations in order that the freedom of speech, education, religious freedom of those who do not approve of homosexuality will not be hampered.
According to The Standards, Christian pastor Tam Tze-shun of the Yan Fook Church, part of the Evangelical Free Church of China, one of the event's organizers, said: "If the government resorts to legislative means to resolve any social disputes on homosexuality based on the grounds of morality, it will only undermine the freedom of expression of those people who don't accept homosexuality."
Choi Chi-sum, general secretary of the Society for Truth and Light, said education is better than enacting laws to outlaw discrimination.
Moreover, organizers who are composed of mainly Evangelical churches said that within a pluralistic society, whether one is in favor or not in favor of homosexuality can respect each other.
In an open letter addressing the homosexuals, churches are opposed to homosexual behaviors, but still believe that God deeply loves homosexuals and that the church is willing to listen to their views and struggles, respecting their freedom whether they are seeking change or not.
Organizers claimed 50,000 people took part in the three-hour-prayer-protest but police said 5,000 people were there at its peak.
Churches Apologize for Damages and Past Hurts
While some held signs supporting legislation for homosexual right during the protest, Dr. Kwai-Wah Hong, who for a long time has been helping homosexuals rebuild their lives, apologized on behalf of some churches and believers for the unintentional and intentional damages towards homosexuals.
Hong did a live telephone interview with John, a “post-gay” person, who spoke of his experiences of wanting to leave homosexual lifestyles but still experiences same-sex attractions.
John said that in junior high he felt different from everybody else and often felt lonely. For fear of rejection, he started going to church, but even at church he felt an enormous identity crisis between being a Christian and being gay. He also recalled being deeply hurt by some church-goer’s reactions.
He had tried to forget his homosexual identity but experienced trouble dealing with his same-sex attractions. Yet, he said that through the support of those who had the similar experiences and good friends from church, he gained the strength to leave the ranks of homosexuality.
John said that love is the strength that allows him to abandon homosexuality. Without love, it would be very difficult to rely simply on intuitions. He said that he embraces his “post-gay” identity and wants to let more gay friends know that, in addition to same-sex lifestyle, there is one that is more pleasing to God.
Reconciliation between a Christian mom and a homosexual daughter
Among the crowd who gathered that day were Gigi Chao, who is openly gay, and her mother Kelly Yao Wei, a former actress and a Christian. Chao’s father, tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung, last September offered HK$500 million to any man who can win his daughter’s heart, even after she married her long-time gay partner.
During the protest, Yao shared her experiences of coming to know that her daughter is homosexual and the process of moving from rejection to acceptance. She told the crowd from the stage: "I was heartbroken when my daughter told me for the first time that she is homosexual,” she said, reported The Standards. “My relations with my daughter became worse. When I was on holiday, I always cried loudly.”
After becoming a Christian, Yao said that she started reconciling with her daughter, but when Gigi told her of the plans to marry her girlfriend last year, she felt sad again, according to The Standards.
With Chao on the stage, Yao said, “daughter, I love you so much.” Then, they both embraced one another.
Government's response on public consultation
After the protest, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi- yuen said the government is open- minded about sexual orientation matters and the Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying will speak on Wednesday.
"I believe that it is very hard to see same-sex marriage being legalized and other related changes in our community occurring in the foreseeable future."
However, this Wednesday, the government refused to carry out a public consultation on the implementation of anti-discrimination laws to protect sexual minorities.
Last November, the Legislative Council voted down a motion to launch a public consultation on the issue, but supporters of same-sex marriage hoped Leung would his address to launch a debate on this issue, with a view of outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, according to The Bangkok Post.
"Society is deeply divided over this issue. Some are in support from the perspective of equal opportunity. Others are concerned that launching a consultation exercise may deal a blow to family, religion and education," Leung said, according to The Bangkok Post. "We will continue to listen to different views from various sectors. At present we have no plan to conduct consultation."
[Editor's note: reporter Sharon Chan contributed to the report.]