Hong Kong hosted Asia's first Gay Games, a Sydney Catholic school overturned a same-sex formal ban, and the Latvian parliament legalized same-sex partnerships.
Hong Kong Hosts Asia's First Gay Games
Despite pushback from anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, The Gay Games Hong Kong has begun, marking its first time in Asia.
Over 2,000 people from 45 countries are set to compete in sporting and cultural events like dragon boat racing and mahjong.
"The vision of the Gay Games has always been to create a sport, arts, and culture festival that celebrates participation, inclusion, and personal best," said Lisa Lam, the co-chair of GGHK, in an interview with Reuters.
The government in Hong Kong did not have officials present at the opening ceremony but previously told organizers that the event must be held in a “lawful, safe, and orderly manner.”
Sydney Catholic School Overturns Same-Sex Formal Ban
Abbie Frankland and girlfriend. Photo via change.org.
St. Ursula’s School has revised a policy that banned same-sex couples from attending their school’s formal.
According to The Guardian, this came after an online petition to Sydney Catholic Schools received nearly 5,000 signatures calling for the school to overturn the ban.
The petition was created by Abbie Frankland who planned on attending with her girlfriend, until she realized they weren’t allowed.
“We hope that our story can inspire others to challenge discriminatory policies and practices wherever they exist,” Frankland wrote on Change.org following the announcement that the ban was lifted.
The Guardian reported that Jason Clare, the Federal education minister, urged the Catholic school to rethink the ban and “show a little bit of common sense.”
Latvian Parliament Legalizes Same-Sex Partnerships
Justice Minister Inese Libina-Egnere. Photo by Saeima - 4.maija svinīgā sēde, Wikimedia Commons.
Same-sex couples can now establish civil unions and register their partnership with a notary following a vote in Latvia’s parliament.
"This is a great beginning ... Latvia is not one of the six countries in the European Union that have no recognition for same-sex couples," said Kaspars Zalitis, a gay rights activist, in an interview with Reuters.
This is a step in the right direction as Estonia, the neighboring country to Lativia, passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in June of this year.
While this permits legal recognition for couples, they still have fewer rights than married couples. Some of the benefits this new legislation does allow are hospital visiting rights and tax and social security benefits.
"We are acknowledging that we have families which are not married, and this is the way they can register their relationship," said Justice Minister Inese Libina-Egnere in an interview with Reuters. “The political will is to have a really specific kind of registered partnership."