Exco endorses AIDS legislation
By FUNG WAI-KONG
THE Executive Council, in finalising the Government's package to safeguard human rights, yesterday endorsed a bill to outlaw discrimination against disabled people and AIDS patients.
The bill, to be introduced to Legco in the next session, would make it unlawful to discriminate against the mentally or physically handicapped, AIDS patients and long-term patients.
Victims could claim damages for discriminatory treatment in employment, housing and education.
Recent refusals by some private hospitals to admit AIDS patients would be disallowed under the bill.
A body would be set up to handle complaints and pass them on for further action.
The bill would also allow a third person to lodge the complaints.
Exco also approved the setting up of a statutory Legal Aid Council to oversee the operations of the Legal Aid Department and to advise the Government on legal aid policy.
But the council, constituted by members of society, would not interfere in the department's decision on individual applications, sources said.
It is understood the Government sees the arrangement as a step to enhance the independence of the department.
The council would be set up next April, the sources said.
Exco also lifted the legal aid applicants' income limit from $120,000 a year to $400,000.