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2019-11-16 HKT 18:09
Several thousand people joined an LGBT rally in Central on Saturday afternoon calling for "equal justice and equal rights" and accusing the government of doing next to nothing to improve legal protections for members of sexual minorities.
People carried rainbow flags and posed for pictures, with the atmosphere at Edinburgh Place more like that of a fair than a demonstration, with various booths handing out souvenirs, food and free condoms.
"This rally is not just for the LGBT community, it's for everyone who wants to fight for basic human rights", said celebrity activist and Cantopop singer Anthony Wong.
Wong said it was a shame that police had refused permission for the usual pride parade due to the ongoing unrest in the city, but the rally was still a chance for sexual minority residents to make themselves visible.
A man who gave his name as Chris said he hoped the event would raise public awareness of the need to fight for the rights of the LGBT community.
He said he feels people have forgotten about the issue since Legco voted down a motion last year which called on the government to look into bringing in unions for same-sex couples.
"We want Hong Kong people to focus on that we are still here. Hong Kong has a lot of LGBT [people]," he said.
Despite some of the participants saying that the event was a chance for people to take a break from the city's anti-government demonstrations, the crowd at one point was belting out the Christian hymn "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord", which had been a protest anthem in the early days of the anti-extradition bill movement.
One of the participants brought along a Pepe doll – a cartoon character which is a common sight at the SAR's protests – although this one had a rainbow-coloured face mask on.
There was also a flag with rainbow-coloured Chinese characters that read the now-familiar "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times", while chants of "Fight for freedom! Stand with Hong Kong!" could be heard on occasions, above the music being played.
But despite some people joking that they were likely to get tear gassed, there was no visible police presence in the area.
Foreign diplomats, including US consul general Hanscom Smith, joined the rally, with former lawmaker Margaret Ng, legislator Ray Chan, and the chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Ricky Chu, also present.
Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham also turned up, on crutches following a vicious attack in Mong Kok last month.
Organisers said 6,500 took part in the gathering.