Equalities watchdog plans new study on sexual discrimination

Research will identify discrimination that sexual minorities face daily and use this to determine measures to tackle the problem

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 3:47pm

The equalities watchdog hopes to undertake a study addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, its chief said.

The study will systematically identify the discrimination, harassment and vilification that sexual minorities encounter in the course of their education, employment and social interations on a daily basis.

The Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Dr York Chow Yat-ngok announced the study in a report on the commission's work yesterday.

Based on the study's findings, he said, the commission would then consult the public through questionnaires and focus group discussions on measures to tackle such discrimination.

This included the possibility of introducing a law dealing with discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender.

Professional research teams with expertise in these issues were invited to submit proposals, and the project was expected to be completed within a year after commissioning, Chow said.

Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai welcomed the watchdog's move, but said it should not act solely on the basis of majority opinion.

"The majorities were often the oppressors of the minorities," he said. "The government concluded that the public appeared reserved on the issues after several previous similar studies. Their conclusion was problematic."

Legislation was the only effective way to tackle discrimination relating to sexual orientation and gender, Law said, adding that society was obligated to safeguard minority groups' interests regardless of mainstream views.

Meanwhile, Chow said the discrimination law review, which would look into the four existing anti-discrimination ordinances - covering sex, disability, family status and race discrimination - was well in progress.

Public consultation on the review is expected to take place over three months in the middle of next year.

Among the watchdog's main objectives are lowering harassment cases in the education environment, including tackling such cases at university orientation camps.

Asked what he thought of the recent Court of Final Appeal ruling entitling new immigrants to Comprehensive Social Security Assistance without the prior requirement of having lived in the city for seven years, Chow said: "We welcome the ruling, which I think is fair … The ruling is good for Hong Kong's human rights."