MTR Says Agency Handled Cathay Gay Ad

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2019-05-20 HKT 21:55

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  • The MTR said it didn't tolerate any form of discrimination. Photo: RTHK

    The MTR said it didn't tolerate any form of discrimination. Photo: RTHK

  • A photo of the Cathay Pacific advert that has been shared on social media. Photo: RTHK

    A photo of the Cathay Pacific advert that has been shared on social media. Photo: RTHK

The MTR says it is committed to diversity after the railway operator reportedly failed to display an ad from Cathay Pacific that showed two men holding hands, with the slogan "Move Beyond Labels". It said advertising was contracted out and an advertising sales agency had handled the ad.

"We note recent public concern over the advertising campaign of an airline," the MTR said in a statement. "MTR Corporation is unequivocally committed to equal opportunities in all aspects of its business and supports diversity."

The railway operator also said it didn't tolerate any form of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, family status or any other factor.

The Airport Authority also reportedly didn't display the Cathay ad.

Earlier, Hong Kong's only openly gay legislator, Ray Chan, said he would be writing to the government to seek an official explanation. He said the MTR and the Airport Authority shouldn't hide behind the advertisement agency.

In the statement, the MTR said it understood public concern over the matter and that it had contacted the agency and asked it to "fully consider the Corporation's commitment to equal opportunities and diversity when it considers advertisements in future."

But an LGBT rights groups was unimpressed by the MTR's move. Brian Leung, from the Big Love Alliance, said the MTR appeared to be passing the buck.

"When you hire a sales agency to screen the ad for you, I mean you have to say - in setting up the rules and regulations - what can be shown and what cannot be shown," he said. "So you are to blame. You cannot pass the ball to the sales agency."

In response, the Big Love Alliance has launched a social media campaign, encouraging citizens to take photos of themselves holding hands with someone else in MTR stations as a way to express their displeasure.

Speaking after the MTR had issued its statement, Ray Chan said he would also call on activists, allies, and ordinary citizens to post photos on social media of people holding hands on MTR premises.

"My friends and I might even gather hundreds of couples to hold hands at an MTR station as a form of public protest," he said.

Chan said this action would raise awareness.

Although he welcomed the MTR's commitment to diversity, the lawmaker said many Hongkongers were deeply disappointed, especially in the wake of recent developments in Taiwan. Last Friday, Taiwan's parliament voted to legalise same-sex unions, a landmark first for Asia.