Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker is known as “Slow Beat” from his days as a disc jockey, but Raymond Chan says there is nothing slow about his plans to reform the Asian banking hub.
Chan publicly revealed his sexuality only after winning a seat in the former British colony’s legislature last weekend, as a representative of the radically pro-democracy People Power party.
He said he plans to use the four-year term of the 70-seat assembly to push for full democracy and the legalization of same-sex marriage in the socially conservative southern Chinese city.
“If I can’t fight for my own rights, how can I help the oppressed and the underdogs?” the 40-year-old told AFP, wearing a suave sky blue shirt and beige khaki pants.
Contrary to his soft-spoken manner and boyish look, Chan is a member of a hard-hitting anti-Beijing party which, along with the League of Social Democrats, is known for its unruly interruptions of legislative council sittings.
His victory has been hailed by gay rights activists, who see his election as a step forward to push for sexual minority rights in a city where homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1991.
But since then, critics say the fight for equality has been painstakingly slow despite Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan outlook and ultra-modern self-image.
A survey sponsored by British bank Barclays in May found Hong Kong’s gay community faced widespread discrimination, with 85 per cent saying they experienced a “negative impact” at their workplace.
He is not daunted by the likely resistance he will face from the city’s Buddhists and Catholics, and promised to use an “educational” approach rather than the noisy antics of some of his allied lawmakers.