Executive Council convener Lam Woon-kwong is calling for legislation to protect gays from discrimination.
Lam said yesterday Hong Kong is way behind other mainstream societies, and that he is disappointed over government handling of what is essentially a human rights issue.
His comments came days after the Legislative Council defeated a motion on gay rights consultation.
"A number of surveys have shown that homosexuals suffer from discrimination or are bullied, but the government is ignoring the need to help them," said Lam, who is also chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Speakers at the City Forum were divided. Society for Truth and Light general secretary Choi Chi-sum said legislation is unnecessary, referring to the overseas experience in which opponents of homosexuality are being charged for making discriminatory remarks.
Percy Wong, who returned from Canada a few years ago, said legislation will only put pressure on parents who are against homosexuality, but are unable to express themselves.
"There were some activities run by homosexuals at the secondary school where my daughter was studying in Canada. I asked the teachers if my daughter could be exempted from taking part, but I was told to shut up or risk being sued," Wong said. "There is no freedom of speech on sexual orientation matters in Canada anymore, just because there is a law to protect the homosexuals."
Meanwhile, Choi said besides the dangers of unsafe sex, the community should also take into account religious concerns and traditional Chinese thinking of a husband-and-wife family.
"There are so many things to consider. We should not rush to call for legislation. And we don't see an urgent need to legislate to protect the homosexuals in their workplaces," Choi said.
Joseph Cho Man-kit, executive co- director of gay and bisexual support group Nutong Xueshe, disagreed, saying the problem of discrimination is serious in the SAR - be it in the workplace or schools.
He said the number of homosexuals facing discrimination in offices rose from 39percent in 2005 to 53percent in 2010.
People Power lawmaker Chan Chi- chuen called for public consultation on the legislation issue.