Policy address to ignore anti-discrimination debate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 January, 2013, 5:17am

Consultation about a law banning discrimination against sexual minorities will not be mentioned in the chief executive's upcoming policy address, a government source said.

News of the omission came despite Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam Chi-yuen's remarks in November that the government was "open-minded" about such a law, and that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would "give more details" in his policy address next Wednesday.

However, the source said there was no timetable within the government for rolling out the consultation, because it wanted to deal with "livelihood matters" first.

Lawmakers who had been calling for such legislation said they were disappointed.

Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she did not understand why the government would use livelihoods as an excuse.

"The legislation is not about housing or medical facilities. It's under the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau. What livelihood matters does Tam have to deal with now?"

She said government officials had discussed with her the possible consultation two months ago, but they were not concrete about whether the consultation would go ahead.

"I hope they would introduce laws to ban discrimination against sexual minorities soon. A consultation could help eliminating conflicts," she said.

Another lawmaker, the openly gay Raymond Chan Chi-chuen of People Power, said he believed gay groups "must not accept" the policy address if it ignored their demands. Chan said he expected the chief executive to at least mention a consultation period when delivering his maiden political blueprint. "Someone might say equality of sexual orientation is not as pressing as new houses or elderly welfare. But I'd say it's very urgent - the government has procrastinated on this for over a decade," Chan said.

Debates about such legislation have already been held in the city. Gay groups say Hong Kong is lagging behind in protection of sexual minorities, while a religious group, the Society for Truth and Light, says the legislation was unnecessary.

In November, the Legislative Council voted down a motion to launch a public consultation.