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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 29, 2019 - Volume 47 Issue 48
Hong Kong elects Gay council member
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Hong Kong elects Gay council member

Jimmy Sham is a pro-democracy insurgent and human rights activist

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Hong Kong elected a pro-democracy Gay man to one of its District Councils, as activists swept to a landslide victory in local elections. Several notable homophobes, meanwhile, lost their seats.

Jimmy Sham, a first-time candidate, is the out Gay leader of the Civil Human Rights Front, an umbrella group of pro-democracy organizations. He appeared at his victory rally on crutches after being attacked by hammer-wielding thugs reportedly hired by political rivals.

Hong Kong's Nov. 24 election featured a confrontation between candidates supporting mass protests against entrenched District officials and supporters of the incumbent government.

Sham said that his electoral victory reflected a broad consensus on defending Hong Kong's civil rights.

"We are trying to listen to the demands of the people and to fight for their rights," he told reporters.

When Britain handed over control of Hong Kong to China in 1997, China agreed to what is called the "one county, two systems" approach, under which Hong Kong is officially part of China but maintains its own legal and administrative framework.

Mass protests broke out in June after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam introduced a bill that would allow extradition of accused criminals to China. Many citizens feared that the measure would lead to erosion of Hong Kong's civil rights guarantees, which are more robust than those in the rest of China.

After months of protests with millions of people taking to the streets, Lam withdrew the controversial bill, but by then protesters were demanding her resignation. The election was widely seen as a total repudiation of her administration.

According to the BBC, 17 of Hong Kong's 18 district councils are now controlled by pro-democracy majorities. Lam told reporters she would "reflect" on her political future after viewing the election returns.

Sham became active in the Civil Human Rights Front through one of its member organizations, Rainbow Action, Hong Kong's leading LGBT rights group. He is also a member of the League of Social Democrats, one of the more radical pro-democracy groups.

The 32-year-old Sham married his husband in New York in 2014. China does not recognize same-sex relationships, but Hong Kong law allows the partners of Hong Kong residents to apply for spousal visas and benefits.

Sham is not the only out Gay council member in Hong Kong. Ray Chan, also Gay and also linked to the pro-democracy movement, was elected to a district council office in 2012. He lost no time in congratulating Sham on social media.

"Openly gay Jimmy Sham is elected #HongKong district councilman. He campaigned, seen here with me, using a cane after two attacks. Brazenly homophobic incumbents such as Holden Chow, Dominic Lee, Junius Ho & Vincent Cheng all lost their seats. What a day! #HongKongProtests," Chan tweeted.

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Hong Kong elects Gay council member
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