Noel Quinn, Global Head of Commercial Banking, HSBC, (pictured above), kicked off the Summit’s Closing Plenary by discussing the unique new Summit structure: “This year we decided to do something different, and I hope it was a success. We thought – it shouldn’t be one organization that takes the lead on this topic once a year in Hong Kong. We should try to foster a broader basis of support and therefore we conscientiously sought more organizations to take the lead this year. So my huge thanks go to Reuters, KPMG, and my colleges here in Asia from HSBC who have each shared the agenda of bringing this event together and I hear it’s been really positive. We try to reinvigorate it rather than pursuing a traditional conference format. We conscientiously decided to try to do more as a business discussion, topic focused event where we could action, not just talk.”
Summit participants gathered at the Closing Plenary to celebrate recent progress on LGBT+ rights in Hong Kong, including positive verdicts in the QT and Angus Leung cases and Hong Kong’s successful bid for the 2022 Gay Games.
“There are some great leaders in this room,” said Mark Daly, Partner, Daly, Ho & Associates (right), who represented civil servant Angus Leung in his suit against Hong Kong’s government to claim domestic partnership benefits for his husband. “Unfortunately what we see is that we don’t have that leadership from the government. We see the government taking up these issues primarily in the courts, instead of saying saying ‘we have to have legislation in this area and we should be doing this proactively.’ Hong Kong could be an international city, and it should be competing against the rest of the world, not regionally. But you hear arguments, “regional rogue” arguments, relativistic arguments. Why are we comparing ourselves to Cambodia, just for example? We should be international. We don’t teach our kids to the best in the region. We want to be the best in the world, and it should be the same for LGBT+ rights.”
Angus Leung (center) talked about the personal consequences he’s faced at work due to his suit: “I talked to my partner, and we decided to bring the case to the High Court of Hong Kong. And then, BOOM! Suddenly, I was on the phone with the local newspaper. And then all of Hong Kong knows I’m gay, probably the whole world knows I’m gay. And then, I remember that when I went back to work, it’s totally dead silent. Nobody talks to me anymore. Suddenly I’m the bad kid in the corner. Even today, there’s still minimal support from my colleagues or my boss, and silence from upper management.”
Dennis Philipse, Founder and Chair, Bid Team, Hong Kong Gay Games 2022 (left), observed the deeply personal reasons motivating his team: “Here’s why we’re doing this. One of the members of our team participated in the Gay Games in 2014 in Cleveland, and he met an athlete of Japanese descent with a medal around his neck. And he said, ‘You must be proud of your medal.’ And the athlete said, ‘Not really.’ And he said, ‘Why not?’ And the athlete said, ‘Well, I can’t bring my medal home with me, because my friends and my family think I’m on a business trip.’ And every time I tell this story I’m so moved. That’s what’s driving us. We want for that athlete to be able to go home and say, ‘Mom and Dad, I participated the Gay Games and here’s my medal.’ Or even better ‘Mom and Dad, I’m going to participate in the Gay Games 2022, do you want to come watch me?’”
Vicki Fan, Partner, KPMG, wrapped up the Summit by tying the personal and the business dimensions of LGBT+ equality together: “It’s clear that businesses have a powerful role in influencing not only the culture within our own organizations, but more broadly the social and government agenda. Throughout the week, we’ve heard about HSBC’s campaign last year with the rainbow lions – and both the positive and negative reactions they received. Well, in our small household, we love the lions. Last year, I took my son to see the lions, and I tried to explain to him what they represented and why it’s important. Now granted, he’s 2, so I’m not sure how much of it registered, but in 15 or 20 years, looking back, I’m sure that he and a lot of other kids across Hong Kong will realize that their first exposure to the concept of diversity and inclusion were the colorful lions sitting outside HSBC. It’s a good reminder that the commitment, effort, and progress we’re making today are not just for us, they’re also for future generations.”