Hong Kong has been awarded the 2022 Gay Games, beating competition from cities in the US and Mexico to become the first Asian location to host the event.
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) announced in Paris on Monday that Hong Kong will host the 2022 games, with the city’s bid defeating offers from Guadalajara and Washington, DC.
The Gay Games is a sports and cultural event which began life as the Gay Olympics in San Francisco in 1982. Next year’s games – the 10th edition – will take place in Paris. Participants at the games do not have to be gay.
The step to award the 2022 games to an Asian city is seen as a boost for the gay rights movement in the region, and a sign that attitudes towards the LGBT community may be changing there.
“This is a big step forward for Hong Kong itself to be able to win this world game… and it is also a big step for diversity inclusion,” said Alfred Chan, the chairman of the city’s Equal Opportunities Commission, according to Reuters.
The games are expected to draw more than 15,000 participants and provide a potential boost of $ 128 million boost to the local economy, the bid team said in a statement, Reuters reports.
While many welcomed the move, Hong Kong itself has laws that many consider discriminatory towards the LGBT community. There is no legal protection against discrimination based on sexuality, and gay marriage is not recognized.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement to Reuters that it is “committed to promoting equal opportunities and fostering in the community the culture and values of inclusiveness and mutual respect.”