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Homosexuality more acceptable in Hong Kong than before, says survey

The Hong Kong society has become more open toward homosexuality than before, according to a survey.

The survey, released by the Center for Comparative and Public Law under the University of Hong Kong, shows that 50.4 percent of the 1,437 respondents aged above 18 are in favor of same-sex marriage, higher than 38 percent in 2013, when the Center conducted a similar survey.

Among the Hong Kong residents surveyed, 78 percent agree that homosexual lovers should enjoy some legal rights granted to straight couples including the right of visiting patients, the right of inheritance and the right of enjoying housing policies, slightly more than 73 percent in 2013, according to the survey.

Compared with the survey conducted in 2013, the new survey adds a new question regarding the right of immigration, and shows that 53 percent of the respondents think that homosexuals should be given the right to apply for Hong Kong visas for their same-sex partners, while 29 percent of the people surveyed disagree.

Last week, Hong Kong's top court ruled in favor of a British lesbian after she filed a lawsuit against the director of immigration in 2014 after she was denied a spousal visa that would have granted her resident status and allowed her to work without the need of a separate visa. The ruling marks a milestone showing that Hong Kong has held a more open attitude toward the influx of expatriate same-sex partners.

The survey also shows that 69 percent of the respondents are in support of legislation to curb discrimination based on sexual orientation. The 2013 survey showed that only 58 percent of the respondents advocated the legislation.

Hong Kong's efforts to fight against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation can date back to the 1990s, when a draft regulation was proposed to grant equal rights to homosexuals in employment. In 2013, Leung Chun-ying, then chief executive of Hong Kong, proposed to hold public consultation on anti-discrimination legislation in his work report. But Leung's proposal failed to be put into place after opposition by some Christian groups, which hold strong belief in monogamy.

Kelley Loper, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong who is responsible for the survey, expressed regret about the Hong Kong government's indifference toward enacting a sexual orientation non-discrimination law especially when 69 percent of Hong Kong residents support it.

"The existing laws of Hong Kong [against discrimination based on sexual orientation] are hysteretic," said Loper.

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