Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 177


EOC Chairperson expresses zero tolerance for racial discrimination

Following the ruling of a case, certain individuals verbally insulted a judge outside the court on the ground of her race to express their dissatisfaction with the ruling. In response to this incident, as well as to increasing discriminatory comments targeted at asylum seekers and ethnic minorities on the Internet, EOC Chairperson Professor Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming released an article on 4 January to raise concern about the growing racist sentiment and condemn acts of racial discrimination, harassment and vilification.

Prof Chan pointed out that such discriminatory talks and expression tarnish Hong Kong’s image as a cosmopolitan and multicultural city where equality and diversity are valued. Such remarks may also constitute contempt of court and violate the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), which protects not only permanent residents of Hong Kong, but all those who reside in Hong Kong, including visitors and asylum seekers.

Under the RDO, any act of discrimination, harassment or vilification on the ground of race is unlawful. By racial vilification, it means any activity in public to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, another person or members of a class of persons on the ground of the race of the person or members of the class of person. Any activity in public that consists of threatening physical harm or inciting others to threaten physical harm towards any premises or property of someone on the ground of race is considered offence of serious vilification and the offender is liable to a fine and imprisonment.

Prof Chan wrote in the article: “Hong Kong is a modern, civilised city where freedom of speech is cherished. While individuals are free to express their views and opinions, it does not mean they can freely attack others because of racial differences. Our city will only progress when people listen to others’ voices with a broad mind and carry out rational discussions supported by facts. What’s more, we are living in a globalised world where economies, cultures, information, and above all, people are highly mobile. It is no longer possible for us to define ourselves narrowly by nationality and geography. Hong Kong will only move forward as an international city, a financial hub and in terms of human rights if we uphold the values of diversity and inclusion, and show the rest of the world that we respect differences.”