CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Diocese to oppose gender reassignment

HONG KONG (SE): At what was billed as a consultation on proposed changes to the law regarding recognition of gender for people commonly referred to as transgender on September 30, Bishop Joseph Ha Chi-shing said that the diocese wants to convey a united stance opposed to any recognition.
 
A working group was set up by the diocese in mid-August to come up with a response to the government working paper prepared by an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gender Recognition.
 
Father Robert Ng Chi-Fun told the briefing that the Catholic Church completely opposes gender reassignment, saying that it is a contradiction in itself as gender is set at birth by God and no one should meddle with that.
 
Bishop Ha asked Catholics to follow the Church lead in opposing the controversial gender recognition legislation.
 
A working group was set up in mid-August by the diocese to express the Church stance on the government consultation paper and on the gender recognition issue.
 
The government consultation arose as a result of a ruling by and advice from the Court of Final Appeal in 2013 after a case involving a transgender man who wanted to marry another man. The working group was set up in 2014.
 
The Inter-Departmental Working Group was charged with studying whether legislation and administrative measures to deal with issues concerning gender recognition in Hong Kong are necessary or not.
 
Currently there is no law in Hong Kong covering gender recognition and although a person’s gender is marked on the identity cards issued to all residents, government departments and private institutions are not required by law to accept the sex identification entry on the card as a legal gender.
 
However, at the same time, there is no legislation requiring that the reassigned, acquired or preferred gender of a person need be accepted for legal reasons.
 
Nevertheless, a number of government medical services are available to such people in recognition of their reassigned, acquired or preferred gender, but there is no mechanism for the gender designation on the identity card to be changed.
 
These facts pose complex legal dilemmas and challenges both for the state and society at large, and the challenge to the Church in formulating a response is equally, if not more complex and possibly more controversial, as it is essential that its response be constructive, intelligent and insightful.
 
However, Bishop Ha’s question is how to square some of these challenges with Catholic faith and morals, but the government is only seeking views on whether it would be a good and practical rule for people living in society at this time.
 
The consultation paper includes 16 questions that it is seeking public feedback on. In the guidelines provided by the diocese, it puts forward information reflecting the Church stance on these.
 
The guidelines note that the diocese “basically opposes the legislation and does not support the gender recognition initiatives.”
 
However, it said it would offer love, compassion and pastoral care to those troubled by gender-recognition issues.
 
The public consultation was scheduled to close at the end of October, but the deadline has been extended until to December 31.

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