Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)

Gay rights group criticise Hong Kong government for plan to replace boss of equal opportunities commission

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 September, 2015, 7:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 12:44pm

Leading pro-gay rights group Pink Alliance has criticised the government’s plan to replace Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Dr York Chow Yat-ngok.

The alliance heaped praised on EOC initiatives that tackled “many important issues in society” including gender pay inequality, employment for ethnic minorities and special educational needs, and more disabled facilities and access.

The government fired the starting gun on Thursday to recruit the next chairperson, whose term expires next March, initiating a three-week open recruitment exercise – in a move seen to oust the incumbent.

“We call on the government to renew Dr Chow’s term as EOC chairman, and to pick the leadership for this important statutory body based on vision and a true understanding of the spirit of human rights,” Pink Alliance said in a statement.

The group said Dr Chow had spoken out for minorities that have not been afforded legal protection from discrimination, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

But pro-family and religious groups have been deeply unhappy with moves by the EOC to introduce more equality to a more conservative Hong Kong society since taking the helm of the commission in 2013.

He drew their ire in 2013 for joining gay rights groups and partaking in the Hong Kong Pride Parade. They claimed Chow’s participation would harm his impartiality.

However, Pink Alliance said Dr Chow understood that as EOC chairman, he has the responsibility to ensure that Hong Kong continues to improve its anti-discrimination legislation to safeguard the equal rights of all its residents.

The government has yet to enact anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Last year, Chow led the commission in launching a consultation on extending the anti-discrimination laws to protect, among others, mainland Chinese, new migrants, and unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples. Conservatives, however, feared the move could lead to same-sex marriage.

According to the official job description, the next EOC chairperson should be someone with at least 15 years’ experience in public administration, experience in leading and managing a sizable public or private organisation, and a track record in public or community service in Hong Kong.