Dissertation Abstracts

Is Citizenship Sexual?: The Study of Exercise of Citizenship of Non-Heterosexuals in Hong Kong

Author: Chan, Ka Ki , kaki01@hkbu.edu.hk
Department: Department of Social Work
University: Hong Kong Baptist University , Hong Kong
Supervisor: Prof. Sammy Chiu Wai Seng
Year of completion: 2013
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Sexual Citizenship , Non-heterosexuals , The Exercise of Citizenship
Areas of Research: Human Rights and Global Justice , Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy


This study is concerned with the exercise of rights claim among non-heterosexuals in Hong Kong. Since there is limited research that focuses on non-heterosexuals’ civil rights and how they have been ignored by mainstream society in Hong Kong, the objective of this study is to fill this research gap. This study is qualitative and uses a case study method. The study is based on 16 in-depth interviews: eight with non-heterosexual Chinese women and eight non-heterosexual Chinese men.

Three themes are revealed in this study. First, this study finds that the privileged ideology of heterosexuality has strongly permeated Hong Kong society, and constrains non-heterosexuals from engaging in the exercise of their rights claim. The study finds that the institutionalization of heterosexuality is located in different aspects of public and private life, and serves to strengthen the hierarchical distinction between heterosexuality and non-heterosexuality. Second, this study finds that the development of same-sex partnership is full of challenges and involves many complexities and negotiations. These difficulties not only destabilize same-sex relationships, but also deter non-heterosexuals from planning or even considering the exercise of their rights claim. Third, the impact of family of origin on rights claim are decisive in whether or not non-heterosexuals even consider, plan or take action in rights claim. The impacts refer to the exclusion and ignorance of the family of origin about the sexual orientation and same-sex partnership. This study also finds that Chinese non-heterosexuals intend to integrate sexuality into familial relations rather than to pursue individualized and de-traditionalized family life.

For both theoretical discussion and practice, this study helps to expand the concept of citizenship to the sexual dimension in Hong Kong local contexts. Since the notion of sexual citizenship has been mainly developed in western social contexts, this study helps to extend the present discussion and analysis of sexual citizenship beyond ethnocentric limitations. Based on the context of Hong Kong, this study helps to expand the discussion of sexual citizenship across different societies.