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Hong Kong transport system reverses ban on advert showing same sex couple

Cathy Adams

Hong Kong’s airport and transport system have reversed a decision not to display an advert featuring a same-sex couple.

The advert, one in a series from airline Cathay Pacific’s new campaign, shows two men walking along a beach holding hands.

The advert was initially banned from the territory’s Mass Automatic Railway (MTR) subway system and at Hong Kong International Airport, which welcomes more than 70 million passengers a year.

Both the MTR Corporation and the airport authority have made a U-turn on the ban following fierce international criticism.

A spokesperson for Airport Authority Hong Kong said: “Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) has informed its agency for handling advertisement applications that the AA deems the visual not in infringement of the AA’s established guidelines on advertisements displayed in the terminal.”

MTR Corporation, which runs the subway system, said in a statement that advert bookings were “contracted out to advertising sales agencies”.

It said: “The corporation understands the public’s concern on the matter. We have immediately communicated with the advertising sales agency and have requested the agency to fully consider the corporation’s commitment to equal opportunities and diversity when it considers advertisements in the future.”

MTR works with outdoor advertiser JCDecaux.

In a statement to the South China Morning Post, JCDecaux confirmed that the adverts would be displayed on the city’s underground network.

The airport authority added that it had guidelines for adverts to adhere to, given that Hong Kong International Airport “receives a large number of passengers of all ages with different cultural backgrounds from all over the world”.

“Any decision made by the AA regarding display of advertisements does not represent AA’s position, if any, on related subject matters.”

Last week, Taiwan became the first Asian state to legalise same-sex marriage.