This letter was sent by Steve Reynolds, Anna Kelly and John Green, members of the LPC UWC Faculty Consultative Committee to Mr Tim Toyne Sewell, Chair of the International Board of Directors.
Dear Mr Toyne Sewell,
As teacher members of the Faculty Consultative Committee of the Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, we represent the teaching staff of the College. A member of the LPC Alumni sent us a copy of your statement pertaining to the article published on 16 February 2008 in the *South China Morning Post*. Although we were not directly sent it, we seek to apprise you of the current situation in Hong Kong and ask you to take the actions requested at the end of this letter.
With regard to the balancing of UWC ideals and values with cultural sensitivities, homosexuality is generally tolerated in Hong Kong. A
lively, open ‘gay culture’ exists without interference from authorities. A recent survey by a reputable local university showed that over 70% of Hong Kong people were in favour of same-sex couples receiving the same rights and treatment as those received by heterosexual couples. Therefore, we believe that treating same-sex couples equally would not offend local cultural sensitivity.
Concerning how far governing bodies are bound by appropriate laws in their jurisdictions, Li Po Chun UWC teachers had, from the College’s inception in 1992 until 2006, Contracts of Employment that recognised all marriages legal in the country in which they were celebrated. Even though Hong Kong law has not changed, all new Contracts from 2006 stipulate that these marriages must be *heterosexual*. A lawyer has advised the FCC that the College would *not*be acting illegally by using its own definitions. The Government Direct Subsidy Scheme, which partially funds the College, does not make funding contingent upon the observance of such Government definitions. An increasing – rather than decreasing – official tolerance is in fact shown by Hong Kong Immigration, who currently give long-term tourist visas to same-sex partners. Any suggestion therefore that the College is obliged to treat people differently in order to comply with Hong Kong law is misleading.
The LPC Faculty welcomes the International Board’s acknowledgement that appropriate forums for issues of concern within the movement need to be created. It is unfortunate that Dr John Green’s repeated requests to the International Board (through the Executive Director in October and November 2007) for a suggested medium through which to raise this issue within the UWC community were not answered. The ‘in-house’ publication of this article in an LPC student magazine was Dr Green’s final effort to have this discussion opened for debate, and both he and the FCC feel it is unfortunate that the issue was subsequently leaked to the media. We firmly feel that a more appropriate forum for debate needs to be created in the UWC movement, so that all in the movement can be fully in touch with its members and the realities of any given situation.
We sincerely hope that you will, firstly, consider asking the Li Po Chun UWC Board of Governors to remedy what we feel is a prejudiced and
provocative amendment to our Contracts of Employment, secondly that you will ask the International Board to make the creation of effective UWC discussion forums a priority, and finally that the International Board will work towards a binding anti-discrimination policy for the whole UWC movement.
Steve Reynolds John Green
(Elected staff members of the LPC UWC Faculty Consultative Committee)
– United World Colleges Student Magazine –