Police have barred the city’s annual pride parade, initially slated for this Saturday, from going ahead.
Authorities issued a letter of objection to the event organizers on Tuesday, stating that current COVID-19 restrictions ban public gatherings larger than four people and that the parade does not fall under exempted activities.
“As public rallies and marches are high-risk activities due to the large number of people that would be gathering, the police have reason to believe that holding this event… would present serious risk to the lives and health of the public,” the letter, which was shared to the organizer’s Facebook page, read.
An online event, which will include sharings and music performances, will be held on Saturday instead. The organizing team invites the public to show up virtually in “a touch of rainbow.”
Since 2008, supporters of LGBT rights in the city have been holding the annual event every year with the exception of 2010, when the committee decided not to go ahead with plans due to a lack of funding.
This will be the first time since 2010 that the event will not be held.
Last year, during the height of the anti-extradition protests, police banned organizers from holding a parade due to safety concerns. A stationary rally went ahead instead, attended by thousands who gathered at Edinburgh Place and waved a large, rainbow-colored Bauhinia flag dressed.
In recent years, Hong Kong has made considerable progress in fighting for the rights of the city’s marginalized LGBT community.
A number of high-profile court cases, including one that delivered a verdict in September reecognizing equal inheritance rights for same-sex couples, have made local headlines and brought the once-fringe topic into mainstream discussion.
But there remains a long way to go. Pro-establishment lawmakers, who command a majority in the policy-making Legislative Council, have traditionally expressed vocal opposition against extending legal rights to same-sex couples—even saying that doing so would threaten traditional family values.
Also in September, protest march organizer Jimmy Sham lost a legal challenge for the city to recognize same-sex couples who were married overseas.