The Gay Games XI are slated to take place this year in Hong Kong and Guadalajara, but after backlash from LGBTQ+ activists there is growing concern about Hong Kong’s safety for LGBTQ people.
Five human rights activists who formerly lived in Hong Kong voiced their concern through an opinion piece published with OutSports, calling on organizers to cancel the games.
Their statement reads “We believe that the GGHK leadership team has betrayed the values and principles of the Gay Games, which purport to celebrate inclusion and promote human rights. Instead, they have aligned themselves with pro-authoritarian figures responsible for widespread persecution against the people of Hong Kong. As a result, they are providing dangerously misleading information to potential participants about their safety if they attend the Games.”
The activists argue that in 2019 when pro-democracy protests occurred in the city, the government responded brutally. Following this event, the Hong Kong government has become increasingly punitive, arresting and imprisoning citizens for political crimes and issues of free speech.
The Gay Games were established in 1982 by Dr. Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete, and are held every four years around the world as a cultural and sporting event that supports and celebrates athletes in the LGBTQ+ community.
In their letter, the activists address Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which not only applies to citizens who are actively in the city, “it applies extraterritorially, meaning that anyone, anywhere in the world, who has expressed a critical view about Beijing or Hong Kong government at any point since 2020 risk arrest if they set foot in Hong Kong.”
The group remarked upon the low registration numbers for the Gay Games this year, and they also criticized Gay Games Hong Kong board members claiming they befriend and complacently accept pro-authoritarian politicians and the government.
The Hong Kong organisers of the Gay Games have rejected calls to cancel the nine-day event scheduled for November after the human rights activists accused the team of “aligning with pro-authoritarian figures persecuting” residents.
“We are deeply saddened by unfounded slurs made about the integrity of the Gay Games Hong Kong Team, and totally reject any calls to cancel the Games,” the organisers said on their website on Monday.