Cover Kayla Wong and Anne-Marie “Harmony” Ilunga go head-to-head in this month's great debate. Photo: Simon Schilling (Wong)

Anne-Marie “Harmony” Ilunga, founder of Hong Kong's first diverse modelling agency, Harmony HK, goes head-to-head with Kayla Wong, LGBTQ+ rights advocate and founder of ethical clothing brand Basics for Basics, in this month’s great debate

Hong Kong Is Diverse, but Is It Inclusive?

Kayla Wong: YES

“I believe Hong Kong is inclusive, as we’ve seen a considerable increase in efforts in the community over the past few years. There has been a strong focus within corporations to strengthen their public position and internal support for different segments and groups in our society. Panels and events geared towards educating people on the LGBTQ+ community and body positivity inclusion have become more popular in the last two years, and we see more representation in the media as well. It is also a great step forward knowing that the Gay Games [due to take place in 2023] are being co-hosted in Hong Kong too. It will give people a chance to learn and understand what it means to be part of a more inclusive society. The city as a whole is definitely still a work-in-progress but we have made significant strides.”

Anne-Marie “Harmony” Ilunga : NO

“As someone who grew up in Hong Kong and is now working in Toronto, I have had the opportunity to compare diversity and inclusion in both cities. I am forced to accept that Hong Kong is not inclusive. “Diversity” means to have a seat at the table, while “inclusion” means to have one’s voice heard and respected at that table. Hong Kong has developed anti discrimination legislation, like the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and Disability Discrimination Ordinance in 1995 and the Race Discrimination Ordinance in 2008, which were set up to ensure equal opportunities for all people, but many Hongkongers have yet to develop racial sensitivity and an inclusive spirit. Faced with rejection at my first modelling audition at age 17, I realised that the negative responses to my profile were likely a product of Hong Kong’s lack of inclusive beauty standards. Diversity and inclusion are enablers of stronger business performance and organisational health. I have no doubt that together we can soon make Hong Kong an inclusive society for all.”

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