HK airport and subway ban ad showing two men holding hands

22-May-2019 Intellasia | Ink Stone News | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A Cathay Pacific Airways ad showing a same-sex couple has been banned from being displayed by two leading transport companies in Hong Kong.

The advert, which showed two men strolling hand in hand along a beach, was part of a rebranding campaign by the city’s flagship carrier intended to highlight the airline’s attitude to diversity.

Both the Airport Authority, which runs the city’s airport, and subway operator MTR Corporation rejected the LGBT content, the South China Morning Post has learned.

Several other adverts from the campaign were on display in prominent spots across Hong Kong.

Sources told the Post the LGBT advert was the only one from the campaign not selected to be displayed at Central, a major transfer station.

There are no restrictions on LGBT advertising in Hong Kong, but the city remains conservative on topics such as LGBT rights.

Marriage between two people of the same sex is also not allowed, an issue that has sparked court challenges in recent years, despite more liberal attitudes prevailing in recent years in the city and abroad.

A Cathay Pacific spokesman declined to comment on the advert not being shown on the subway but was unapologetic about its message of diversity.

“We embrace diversity and inclusion. We are very diverse and our customers are too,” the spokesman said.

The airline also told staff at an internal meeting that one of the key messages of the rebrand was to “fly with pride for our LGBT community allies.”

An MTR spokeswoman said advertising bookings for most its lines were handled by an outside agency, French company JCDecaux.

She explained that “clients should follow the contract terms and conditions and agency’s guidelines, to ensure the advertisements comply with the laws of Hong Kong as well as codes of practice in the advertising industry.”

JCDecaux pointed out two clauses in the contract stipulated by MTR. One stated adverts would not be accepted if visual content was “immoral; or which offend the generally accepted standards of public decency or the social or cultural standards of the society.”

The MTR clause went on to say content “which … in any way caus[ed] discomfort, fear, distress, embarrassment or distaste to the public” would be rejected.

Another clause said adverts could be blocked if they “in any way … incite social controversy, whether arising immediately or occurring anytime afterwards.”

“The [same-sex couple] advert from Cathay Pacific came with a series of options,” a JCDecaux spokeswoman said. “Therefore alternative visuals were used in this campaign.”

A spokesman for Hong Kong airport’s operator said it had established guidelines but did not specify what they were.

“The [LGBT] visual was not included in the materials submitted to the [Airport Authority],” he said.

He declined to comment further when asked whether the authority would accept the advert.

It’s ironic that faster-than-expected climate change has created a new economic opportunity in the Arctic just as environmentalists start talking up a “blue economy” based on the sustainable use of ocean resources.

Thanks to global warming and the melting of the ice caps, a new ocean is steadily emerging and with it the prospects of new shipping lanes and access to hitherto untapped natural resources.

But the geopolitical risks involved in exploiting these opportunities to say nothing of the environmental consequences may well outweigh the commercial benefits.

They increase the risk that the Arctic could become a new arena of conflict in the deteriorating relationship between the United States, China and Russia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made no secret of the rivalry when he described the region recently as “an arena of global power and competition.”

The reason for countries’ interest in the region is clear its vast resources. The Arctic is estimated to hold 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and one-seventh of its untapped oil reserves, plus other valuable minerals.

The melting of the ice promise to make retrieving these resources easier and will effectively open up a new shipping channel that will be of more use to China the world’s largest merchandise exporter than any other country. If China could ship goods to Europe through the Arctic Ocean it would cut the length of its delivery routes by a third.

That’s not all.

The region’s fishing stocks the world’s largest store of biological protein could supplement China’s own overfished waters.

In its first Arctic strategy white paper, published in January, Beijing declared itself a “near-Arctic state” and a “stakeholder”, despite its distance from the region. It added that it wanted to build a “Polar Silk Road” in the “new ocean.”

It has already been spending heavily in the region, investing $90 billion between 2012 and 2017, building several polar research institutions and financing several scientific expeditions to the region.

Russia is increasing investment, expanding its fleet of icebreakers to more than 40, reopening cold war-era military bases above the Arctic Circle and making plans to deploy anti-aircraft missiles on some of them.

Washington is adding to its forces in the region, conducting more military exercises, rebuilding its icebreaking fleet and creating a senior military position for Arctic affairs.

On some estimates, this newfound interest in the region will attract up to $1 trillion of investment. Such large-scale investment will inevitably have an enormous impact on vulnerable ecosystems unless it is managed under the strict scrutiny of the international community.

Militarisation should be rejected outright by the international community, as such activities will only undermine regional stability and peace. Experts have long warned that industrial and military activities can harm marine species.

The greatest priority for the world should be conserving and protecting the environment of one of the world’s last unspoiled regions. Its most urgent task is how to invest in stopping further degradation of the environment and, where possible, reversing it.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, all resources of the deep seabed and ocean floor that are beyond national jurisdictions are considered the common heritage of mankind.

The convention, signed up to by 167 countries, not only imposes an obligation on all states to protect and preserve the marine environment. It requires all states to cooperate, regionally and globally, towards that objective. All major stakeholders, whether they are in the Arctic Circle or not, should put such duties ahead of any commercial interests.

The priority for the Arctic should be to maintain it as a peaceful, harmonious place not only for human beings, but for its true owners the animals living there.


Category: Hong Kong

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