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Jenny Patoc (R) kisses her partner Jina Cammagay during their ceremony in Hong Kong on December 8, 2013
Domestic workers come out of the closet in Hong Kong

in HONG KONG, 03/02/2014

Working long hours away from home for low pay and little time off, life is tough for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, but for some the city has brought sexual liberation unheard of in their home countries.

To Jenny Patoc, a 41-year-old Filipina helper, Hong Kong is the place where she met her girlfriend 15 years ago and where they unofficially tied the knot at their own "holy union" ceremony last year -- despite the semi-autonomous territory's failure to recognise same sex marriages.

"In Hong Kong, we are free. We can show who we are," Patoc told AFP in the southern Chinese city's packed Central financial district on a recent Sunday, where thousands of helpers congregate every week on their one day off.

While conservative attitudes still prevail in aspects of Hong Kong society, for many migrant workers the former British colony is an easier place than home to be gay, particularly those from Muslim Indonesia and the deeply Catholic Philippines.

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