The Gay Games 2023 are opening on Saturday in Hong Kong, the event’s first time in Asia.
The Gay Games were founded in 1982 by an Olympic athlete, a worldwide event to promote acceptance of LGBT+ athletes, artists, and performers. Intentionally similar to the Olympic Games, the first one was held inn San Francisco, and it has been held every four years since then, with a one-year delay during the Pandemic. It is open to all athletes, regardless of sexual orientation or gender experience. In some years, the number of athletes has exceeded 10,000, making this event larger than the Olympics.
This year, 2,400 athletes from 45 countries will assemble in either Hong Kong or Mexico City, as the Games are being held concurrently in both cities. Hong Kong has recently experienced a backlash against the LGBT community in relation to the government crackdown after their pro-democracy protests, but the city still has moved closer to recognizing same-sex partnerships in recent months. At the same time, they still have no law against discrimination based on orientation, and several lawmakers have opposed the hosting of the Gay Games.
According to lawmaker Junius Ho, the Games advocate for legalizing same-sex marriage, which he claims breaches a national security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing. The law prohibits public activism, and while made to prevent public protest, has been used to arrest anyone disliked by the Chinese government. Due to these laws, Taiwan will not be attending the Games.
But other politicians, lke Cabinet member Regina Ip, support the Games. She attended and spoke at the opening ceremony, saying “History is being created today.” and calling Hong Kong one of “the world’s most open and liberal cities.”
The Games in Hong Kong will last 8 days, and feature 22 competitive events, ranging from dragon boat racing and fencing to table tennis and mah jong.