Leung's lack of focus on sexual minorities 'disappointing'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 4:46am

The Equal Opportunities Commission has called it "unfortunate" that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government would not carry out a consultation on whether to create laws to better protect sexual minorities.

Leung's announcement in his Wednesday policy address is a setback to groups fighting for equal rights for people of different sexual orientations, according to discussions on the web. Commission chairman Lam Woon-kwong also serves as Executive Council convenor.

The discrimination watchdog would consider whether to launch a consultation of its own, said Dr John Tse Wing-ling, convenor of the commission's policy and research committee.

"Our research indicated 60 per cent of residents in Hong Kong preferred to have some consultation in terms of sexual orientation legislation. Unfortunately, the government … hasn't done so," Tse said yesterday. "But it doesn't discourage the commission from doing similar work. Please give us time so we can think about whether the commission would take on the task."

In the study on Hongkongers' awareness of equal opportunities, the commission found 43 per cent of 1,504 people polled between June and August considered the level of discrimination against sexual minorities "serious", Tse said.

The findings were disclosed as Leung defended his decision in the Legislative Council. "There are very different views in society on this issue," he said. "One of the reasons is that the government has to get focused to deal with [bigger] issues … including poverty and housing."

Camps both for and against homosexual rights welcomed the possibility of the commission launching a consultation. Openly gay lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen said: "Having the commission take the initiative would be better than doing it among the public, in terms of resources and level of recognition."

Leticia Lee See-yin, the president of the Parents Association and who is against equal rights for sexual minorities, said a consultation should deal with whether opponents like her would face discrimination, too.