HONG KONG, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Hong Kong will host the 2022 Gay Games, fighting off bids from cities in the United States and Mexico to become the first Asian city to stage the sports and cultural event.
The news comes after Taiwan’s constitutional court declared in May that same-sex couples have the right to legally marry, the first such ruling in Asia, providing a shot in the arm for the gay rights movement in Asia.
The Federation of Gay Games (FGG) chose Hong Kong over Guadalajara in Mexico and Washington, DC, in a vote in Paris on Monday.
A record number of 17 cities had expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Gay Games, 13 of them in the United States.
“The impact that the Gay Games has in host cities is incredible in terms of culture, sport, economic impact, history and most importantly elevating all matters of LGBT+ equality,” the Federation of Gay Games said in a statement.
It is not illegal to be gay in China, although until 2001 the country regarded homosexuality as a mental disorder. Many large cities have thriving gay scenes, but gay individuals still face a lot of family pressure to get married and have children.
LGBT activists say deeply conservative attitudes toward homosexuality in some sections of society have led to occasional government clamp-downs.
The 2018 Gay Games will take place in Paris from August 4-12, featuring 36 sports, 14 cultural events, an academic conference, and up to 15,000 participants from 70 countries.
The Gay Games was conceived by Tom Waddell, an Olympic decathlete, and was first held in San Francisco in 1982.
The Games have become the largest global sport and cultural gathering open to all. Participants do not have to be gay.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that promises it a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland.
Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry