The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) supports the elimination of discrimination on all grounds and welcomes the introduction of the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill into the Legislative Council for First Reading and Commencement of Second Reading on 12 December 2018.
Prof Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “The introduction of the Bill into the Legislative Council for the First and Second Reading is another step forward by the HKSAR Government to modernise and harmonise the anti-discrimination legislation in Hong Kong. It demonstrates Hong Kong’s commitment to protecting our community from discrimination and harassment regardless of sex, disability, family status and race.”
“The Bill seeks to amend the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) to take forward eight recommendations of priority in the EOC's Report on the Discrimination Law Review submitted to the Government in March 2016. These recommendations are the culmination of the EOC’s Discrimination Law Review, including a four-month public consultation that concluded on 31 October 2014, which sought to simplify, harmonise and modernise the anti-discrimination legislation. The Government has also earlier consulted the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of the Legislative Council and the Labour Advisory Board and gained members' support in pursuing these recommendations. It is expected that the public will welcome the recommendations to extend the scope of protection under the four anti-discrimination ordinances.”
The draft legislative amendments provide protections from discrimination in a number of important areas where the EOC believes there is a need for reform based on evidence of discrimination, a gap in protections from discrimination, or a need to harmonise protections for the different groups covered by the four anti-discrimination Ordinances. These are:
- providing protection from direct and indirect discrimination, as well as victimization for breastfeeding women in key sectors such as employment and the provision of services and facilities;
- providing protection from sexual, racial and disability harassment in common workplaces where there is no employment relationship (eg consignment workers);
- providing protection from racial and disability harassment where customers harass employees, including where such acts occur on Hong Kong registered aircraft or ships and while they are overseas;
- expanding the protections from racial discrimination by expanding the scope of protection from discrimination by association, and introducing protection from discrimination by imputation;
- providing protection from sexual and disability harassment for members and prospective members of clubs; and
- repealing provisions of the SDO, RDO and FSDO which prevented damages being awarded in an indirect discrimination claim, unless the claimant could prove that the respondent intended to discriminate.
“Given the increasing expectations of the public and continuing changes in society, the EOC looks forward to continuing the discussion with the Government on the implementation of proposed amendments and other priority recommendations of our Discrimination Law Review with a view to addressing existing inequalities and modernising the anti-discrimination laws in Hong Kong.” Prof CHAN added.
In order to raise awareness and promote understanding of these new amendments, the EOC will prepare comprehensive guidance and conduct public education programmes to help all relevant stakeholders, (such as employers, employees, service providers, clubs and providers of education) understand the effect of, and comply with the new provisions when they come into force.
For media enquiries, please contact Mr Sam HO at 2106-2187.
Equal Opportunities Commission
12 December 2018