Civil society mobilizes in the face of the lack of supply to the community. Macau LGBTQ + Social Club wants to organize at least two events per month with a minority in mind that remains unprotected and ostracized.
“POSE” was the first Drag Queen show in Macau, according to Macau organizer LGBTQ + Social Club. The event, which took place two weeks ago, did not go unnoticed in an empty land of events and spaces dedicated to the community.
On whether there is prejudice, the president of Arco-Íris, a unique local association that promotes social inclusion of the LGBT + community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, transsexual and transgender), chooses to respond with the example of local artist Terence Chi Iong Chui – known as Siufay -, who assumed to be homosexual. “There was no major controversy. It may be an indication that the younger generations are or are becoming more open. “
A study by the Sociology department at the University of Macau, released last month, indicated that 16.5 percent of students attending higher education in the territory identify themselves as homosexual, bisexual or others. An unexpected result for the team that did not anticipate such a high loss.
Anthony Lam points out, however, that the status quo remains. “The mentality that privileges peace and harmony reigns, which makes the debate on these themes a low priority”, he says.
“It is unfortunate that, in the last decade, there has been no progress or improvements in mentality and legislation regarding the protection of these minorities”, laments Cecilia Ho, who teaches Gender Studies, in the Social Service Course, of the Polytechnic Institute of Macau.
Most of the residents, adds the professor, are unaware, ill-informed and do not contact LGBT +. “How can you expect there to be no prejudice or discrimination? It is an invisible community ”.
In a survey conducted last year by Arco-Íris it was found that 14 percent of LGBT + members had considered committing suicide and 22 percent of the 994 respondents had been the target of domestic violence.
The group insisted that same-sex couples should be included in the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence. The Social Action Institute responded that there is a legal conflict between the Civil Code and the Penal Code. The gap in the law, passed in 2016, has deserved criticism for not covering same-sex couples.
This year, an association returned to the charge. This time, with the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (UN), he asks that he move with no sense of realizing that he intends to do the Government to guarantee equality in legal protection for domestic violence, without discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Cecilia Ho recalls that same-sex couples are covered by the law in Taiwan, Portugal and Hong Kong, where there is also an independent body to deal with cases of description against a community, the Equal Opportunities Committee.
The teacher says that it is urgent to create in Macau an affirmation environment for LGBT people, essential for them to feel comfortable and free to socialize without receiving violence or harassment.
For this, he continues, it is crucial to train services and professionals on family and gender / sexual orientation issues; and there is a legal reform that promotes equality. “It can start by allowing transsexuals to update the gender register in their identification documents.”
“Although the Government says it is studying the matter, I am not waiting for changes to the law, especially in this atypical 2020”, stresses Lam.
This was another of the demands in the letter sent to the UN, in which the group warned that for homosexual, lesbian and bisexual citizens, legal protection against discrimination in Macau is limited to aspects of job search and treatment by agents of the Commission against Corruption.
At that point, mainland China is ahead of Macau, where the possibility already exists, stresses Anthony Lam. He says that friends used to tell him that there was more and more acceptance.
The news coming from there shows that this will no longer be the trend. In August, ShanghaiPRIDE, the oldest LGBT group in mainland China, decided to suspend all activities “to protect the safety of those involved” given the increasing pressure of recent years. Online content, films and discussions about homosexuality have been banned. The sale of items with the gay flag was also banned. Homosexuality was no longer a crime in 1997 and was considered a mental illness until 2001. Taiwan is the only territory in Asia that recognizes the right to marriage for homosexuals. “There are many hidden cases of domestic violence against young people, homosexual and transgender children because of the traditional mentality in mainland China,” warns Cecilia Ho.
In 2013, deputy José Pereira Coutinho presented a bill to legalize civil unions between people of the same sex. The initiative was failed with a vote in favor, his own.
There are many misconceptions in people’s minds, lam laments. “Sex education is recent. It will be a long time before there is acceptance ”, underlines the leader of the NGO Arco-Íris.
Cecilia Ho asks: “How is it going to change, if sex education classes do not address issues such as sexual desire and protection in homosexual relationships?”
Change the scenario
Macau contrasts with most places that Jimmy Chung is used to. Born and raised in Canada, lived in Paris and more recently in Hong Kong, where minority neighborhoods and businesses exist.
It was by noting the lack in the region that the designer created the Macau LGBTQ + Social Club, when he moved in December to escape political instability in Hong Kong. The non-profit association started with five members, today it has more than 200. The goal is to maintain the frequency of two events per month. “We want to raise awareness and contribute to the population’s perception of the community, and create environments in which they feel safe”, explains the club president, open to everyone despite the focus on minorities. “We just don’t accept bigots,” he says.
The Urban Tribe cafe also hosted another Drag Queen show, on the same day as POSE. It was the first to welcome the community. The owner Rui Carreiro assumes he was surprised by the adhesion of the locals and different generations. “The Portuguese community is Adamastor, much more conservative than the local community. They are false moralists ”, he condemns.
Living in Macau for 12 years, he guarantees that he never felt prejudice except from his countrymen. But he believes he has a more favorable perception because he has always worked in the art world, as a more liberal rule.
Wherever he went, he guarantees that sexual orientation was never a theme. In the region, it only became when he left the “Dancing Water” team and began to have more contact with the Portuguese community. “Very conservative, and it’s not just about sexual and gender issues. I feel it especially among those who have been here for 30 or 40 years. They still think this is a colony. I have two businesses and I see it from the way they treat people ”, he disapproves.
Rui Carreiro does not consider Macau a prejudiced city, and stresses that the reserve is a sign of respect. “It is not necessary to wear a t-shirt saying what I am or that there are public displays of affection. There is mutual respect. Everything that is exaggeration goes bad ”.
The absence of bars and spaces, he adds, is political. “You can’t, period. But people manage to have a normal and trouble-free life. ”