Anti-LGBTQ Hong Kong Lawmaker Attacks Gay Romantic Comedy TV Series

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday July 31, 2021
Originally published on July 28, 2021

A scene from 'Ossan's Love'
A scene from 'Ossan's Love'  (Source:Screencap/ViuTV/YouTube)

A pro-Beijing, anti-LGBTQ Hong Kong lawmaker described claims that a 15-episode TV comedy about a gay male triangle violates a draconian Chinese security law.

The locally-produced series, titled "Ossan's Love," aired every day from late June and into July on ViuTV, drawing a sizable audience. The Wall Street Journal described the plot as "a romance among three men working in a real estate agency," and noted that the show "was praised by rights advocates for helping to bring gay relationships into the mainstream in Hong Kong." [Story is behind a paywall.]

Pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Junius Ho compared the series to illicit drugs and "suggest[ed] it was harmful to society" by depicting "childless families" in spite of China's policy that families should have three children, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But Ho didn't stop there; he also claimed that "Ossan's Love" violates "China's national security law," a measure enacted just over a year ago.

Critics of the law say it was designed to quell pro-democracy sentiment and, NBC News reports, "crush criticism of the government and muzzle freedom of speech — institutions that were protected or allowed in Hong Kong for decades, unlike in mainland China."

"His remarks fanned concerns that politicians will use national security rhetoric... to push personal political agendas and target broader social rights in the city," the Wall Street Journal said.

The South China Morning Post reported that the series, which is a remake of a 2016 Japanese program, stars "two heartthrobs from the city's hottest boy band, Mirror," and revolves around a young man named Tin-Tin who "comes to question his sexuality after being pursued romantically by his male boss." Meantime, his openly gay roommate also has a crush on him.

The series has already had a profound impact on societal attitudes, the article said. "Cultural studies scholars and activists.... argue the program and its ensuing popularity is reshaping public perceptions of the city's sexual minority groups, which are often marginalized by the local media."

LGBTQ rights advocates denounced Ho's comments, the Hong Kong Free Press reported, with Rainbow Action spokesperson Tommy Jai reminding the media "that Chinese courts have granted protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace and have recognized spousal visas for same-sex couples, before Hong Kong courts did so."

"Junius Ho is not only ignorant but also homophobic on same-sex issues," Jai said.

Ho has a history of anti-LGBTQ remarks. In June he "spoke out against Hong Kong government involvement in the 2022 Gay Games, calling it 'disgraceful' and saying the city should not chase 'dirty money,' " the Hong Kong Free Press recalled.

"Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Hong Kong, while mainland China adopts an ambiguous 'no approval, no disapproval, no promotion' policy on same-sex relations," the Hong Kong Free Press noted.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.