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February 15 Protest Wrap Up and Moving Forward (Alan Chan)

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Finding the Religious Right’s encroachment on our basic human rights and social plurality no longer tolerable, we took our anger and frustration from the online world to the streets of Hong Kong. We gathered our voices and forces, more than 1,000 strong, and marched from Yan Fook Church to the Society for Light and Truth, two organizations whose political antics and extremist agendas were out of touch with Hong Kong people. Our protest on February 15 also took on real urgency and importance in the political context, as the legislative process for the Amendment of “Domestic Violence Ordinance” (DVO) and “Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance” (COIAO) are well under way. The DVO amendment affords same-sex couples and family members other than couples (such as grandparents and grandchildren) the same legal protection already enjoyed by a married couple, and by a man and a woman in a non-marital relationship. The COIAO legislation is feared to pave the way for censorship in traditional media and on the internet by an unelected government. Should the Religious Right’s plot to amplify their lone and unpopular voice and to misrepresent the majority’s view succeed, then what we believe to be Hong Kong’s core values, such as equal protection under the law, freedom of speech, freedom of information, and the rule of law will be eroded gradually and irreversibly.
More fundamentally, the culprits who dragged Hong Kong into this “Culture War” are a growing and increasingly vocal fraction of radical Christians. They are more interested in imposing their ultraconservative, narrow, and often skewed understanding of faith onto the society at large, than preaching love, compassion, and respect for others. The Religious Right has run various character assassination campaigns to blame the homosexual minority for all social ills. Recently, a publicly-funded school with a religious background had pressured its students and their parents to support the Religious Right’s view on COIAO legislation. Another school paid for by taxpayer’s money disciplined its students for celebrating Halloween, which was deemed “unchristian” by some fundamentalist teachers. In yet another school, teachers attempted to teach creationism in science classroom. These incidents show the Religious Right’s unmitigated use of the political apparatus to change the social values and fabrics to their liking at the expense of a plural society. Rumors about some Christian fanatics calling for “Wong Tai Sin” district to be renamed have started circulating. Regardless of this rumor’s veracity, it shows many people’s deep unease and anxiety about the Religious Right’s forcing its political, spiritual, and moral views on all of us, as well as its overzealous proselytizing that threatens our plural way of life and freedom of religion.
Indeed, the Religious Right’s cause célèbre of displacing private and personal values of faith and morality into the public and political sphere diverts our much-needed attention and energy from the pressing issues facing Hong Kong today: universal suffrage, economy, education, pollution, and poverty. Yan Fook Church, for instance, was known for its explicit support of the Hon. Priscilla Leung in Kowloon West Constituency in last year’s election. We have reasons to be alarmed that the Religious Right might have colluded with pro-Government, pro-Beijing forces, and would continue to do so to divide and polarize Hong Kong people for their political gains.
The February 15 rally was our first response to the Religious Right’s pattern of provocative behaviors. “Bring it on!” we proclaimed in our united voice formed by a diverse group of concerned Hong Kong and world citizens: Christians, non-Christians, agnostics and atheists; locals and expatriates; straight and gay; professionals and the working class; grandparents, parents, and their children; teachers and students; legislative councilors, district councilors and their constituents; Hong Kong students studying and working abroad and their international friends. We cherish tolerance, freedom, and justice. We respect every religion as long as it does not harm others. We are vehemently against all forms of discrimination. Most importantly, we also share the love of Hong Kong, and for this reason alone, we will fight on. We will fight this “Culture War” with dialogue and exchange, rational and constructive discussion, rallies, and petitions. We will fight with all possible non-violent means. We are looking forward to winning the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people. We will prevail, because we believe we are on the right side of history.

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