Anger over human rights contract
Conservative group known for its anti-gay views commissioned to educate teachers on how to avoid discrimination
A conservative Christian group has been commissioned by the government to educate teachers on human rights and anti-discrimination concepts.
The Society for Truth and Light, an anti-gay rights group, won the contract from the Education and Manpower Bureau. The first class will be held on October 12.
The society beat two other proposals - one led by University of Hong Kong law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, and the other headed by Hong Kong Institute of Education and Human Rights Monitor legal expert Leung Yan-wing. Dr Leung has been teaching civic education to teachers under another of the bureau's training programmes.
It is understood the government's decision has outraged human rights activists. The Civil Human Rights Front will meet next week to discuss the issue and action to be taken.
According to the course outline obtained by the South China Morning Post, the society will teach primary- and secondary-school teachers human rights history, international human rights conventions, human rights in Hong Kong and three anti-discrimination laws. It will also have a class devoted to the 'excessive use of human rights'.
The outline states: 'The government has the responsibility to educate or even use laws to eliminate all kinds of discrimination and injustice. But following the trend of liberalisation, people only emphasise individual rights and ignore one's responsibility and obligation to society.
'Extreme liberalists always uphold human rights to strike against traditional social values. The society hopes, by organising this programme, teachers will understand the true meaning of 'human rights' and that any misunderstanding of the true meaning of human rights can lead to more social problems.'
A spokeswoman for the bureau said it has been collaborating with the society on human rights education for some years. She said the society outbid its competitors on background, on experience, and on how well it masters human rights concepts and teaching knowledge.
Society spokesman Rex So Hang-tai said it was the first human rights course it had run for the bureau, although the society had provided anti-gambling training for teachers in the past.
'Our expertise has been with gambling, media and sex education. Social issues and human rights have always been our concern.'
Mr So said it was too early to say what the speakers would teach, but admitted they would not shy away from the anti-discrimination law against homosexuality.
Both Professor Tai and Dr Leung expressed disappointment.
Professor Tai said his group charged $15,000 per lesson, the same as for civil service courses, but was told by officials that it was too expensive.
Jackie Hung Ling-yu, a project officer of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese Justice and Peace Commission, was outraged.
'I do not understand why the government let a group which is well known for its biased and distorted views teach human rights. I am worried they will influence the teachers on the anti-discrimination law against homosexuality,' she said.