THE Government was using 'manipulative' methods when consulting the public on discrimination in order to spur a negative reaction, former legislator Anna Wu Hung-yuk said. She urged legislators to ask for public hearings to be held to gauge information on public sentiment, arguing the consultation process was being monopolised by the Home Affairs Branch. Referring to a survey on sexuality initiated by the branch which asked questions such as 'would you be willing to shake hands with a homosexual?', she voiced concerns that the whole consultation process was a farce. 'My suspicion is that they want to come out with negative reactions from the public,' Ms Wu said. 'I'm very sceptical of the motives of the Government. I think they want to manipulate the consultation to show people are against . . . protection for homosexuals, or show there would be so much friction, we would be better off with as little protection as possible. 'I'm trying to convince legislators to go ahead with public hearings for equal opportunities,' she said. Ms Wu, who was speaking at the opening of the Women's Research Centre at Hong Kong University, said she was also concerned the Government had been quiet on public consultation for age discrimination. 'This has been put in the hands of the Education and Manpower Branch, which has never been concerned with the need for consultation. They really felt this would be a waste of their time,' she said. Director for Home Affairs Shelley Lau Lee Lai-kuen said the Government was coping 'quite well' in its move to enact sex discrimination legislation. 'I have been promoting equal opportunities for women in the civil service, but I don't consider myself a feminist,' she said. 'I don't want to achieve goals for women that are contrary to community interests. 'I think the community is . . . ready to express their views,' Mrs Lau said. Veronica Pearson, a founder of the research centre, said she was 'hopeful' of the sex discrimination ordinance coming into effect before 1997, adding: 'If you can't stay hopeful, how can you go on working for change?'