Equal Opportunities Commission

New hope on bill to outlaw racial bias

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 May, 2008, 12:00am

A proposal that could provide a deal for Legislative Council critics of the Race Discrimination Bill will be discussed at today's bills committee meeting with officials.

The bill has been criticised by lawmakers and human rights experts as containing so many exemptions that it would do more to protect the government from being sued for discrimination than eliminate discrimination.

A new proposal by the Equal Opportunities Commission, which would ensure a continuing government duty to eliminate discrimination, has been highlighted by lawmakers as a possible middle ground.

The EOC proposal is for the bill to include a duty to draw up a race equality scheme, requiring the government to publish a document setting out the effects of its policies on minorities, and measures to remedy any discrimination.

'The race equality scheme should include a timetable and realistic action plan with clear targets and show the steps the authority will take,' the submission says.

The scheme would ensure that all government functions bore in mind 'the impact on different racial groups', make equality 'the central consideration in decision-making', and ensure the proactive promotion of racial equality.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said acceptance of this proposal would be a major step forward while rejection would clearly demonstrate before the United Nations the government had absolutely no intention to promote racial equality'.

A government spokesman said: 'We will listen to views before further considering the matter.'