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Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)

Last orders for Ladies' Nights? Cheaper drinks for women is sex discrimination, man tells Hong Kong's equal opportunities watchdog

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 October, 2015, 3:07am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 12:20pm

Bar owners across Hong Kong could be left crying into their beer if a legal challenge by the city's equal opportunities watchdog targeting the gender-based discounts offered at "Ladies' Nights" is successful.

The Equal Opportunities Commission on Thursday filed a case at the District Court on behalf of a male complainant whose Chinese name transliterates as Yiu Shui-kwong accusing an unnamed karaoke and disco club of breaching sex discrimination laws by charging men more for a drink than women, according to an EOC statement and court filing.

Despite having received similar complaints dating back to at least the late 1990s, a commission spokeswoman said this was the first time the watchdog had taken such a case to court.

"By taking this case to court, the EOC hopes to raise the public's awareness that there should not be less favourable treatment on the grounds of sex in the provision of services, even if it is for the purpose of business promotion," the EOC said.

It said sex-based pricing policies were unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.

Court filing records showed the defendant in the case was a company called Legend World Asia Group.

Companies Registry records showed the group's sole director, Lee Pui-lam, resigned in January. The domain the company secretary's email address was registered to was Legend-world.com

The website showed the company ran a disco and karaoke business in Chong Hing Square and a restaurant and bar called Mini Club, both in Mong Kok.

A staff member at the disco told the Post Ladies' Nights took place from Sunday to Thursday after 9.30pm. For all-you-can-drink tickets, men were charged HK$360 and women HK$60.

Allan Zeman, dubbed the father of Lan Kwai Fong for turning the old neighbourhood in Central into an entertainment hotspot, said it was the first time he had heard of the legality of the established commercial practice being challenged.

"I myself think it's kind of ridiculous. It's a free country. If you don't like it, don't go to that bar," he said. "There are bigger problems in the world to worry about than Ladies' Nights."