Draft anti-racism laws may have exemptions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 October, 2003, 12:00am

The draft legislation against racial discrimination in Hong Kong may contain at least three specific exemptions, the deputy secretary for home affairs revealed yesterday.

Stephen Fisher said small and medium-sized enterprises might be granted a three-year grace period to allow them to adjust to the new law.

Second, Mr Fisher said that while the law would protect ethnic minorities from discrimination in seeking accommodation, people who lived in small premises and wanted to rent a room to an outsider should not have to comply fully.

'People who are residing in small premises and wish to rent out a room in the flat while sharing the kitchen, toilet and common areas should not be required to comply fully with the law,' Mr Fisher said.

'In such cases, the choice of tenant should be left to the landlord.'

Third, Mr Fisher said employers seeking to fulfil certain positions should be exempt as certain backgrounds were essential to the very nature of some jobs.

If an actor was sought to play the role of an Indian man, Mr Fisher said, it would be reasonable for an employer to seek to hire an ethnic Indian.

The consultation paper on the legislation was due to be issued early next year, he said.

'Hong Kong is an international city with people of every race doing business, living and visiting,' he said.

'We understand that new legislation often raises concerns in the community, but hope that this law, like the existing three anti-discrimination laws, will be implemented smoothly.'