Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 226


EOC expresses concern over racially abusive language on social media

On 21 January 2020, the EOC issued a statement to express concern over recent comments on various social media pages attacking the race and skin colour of a female journalist. The EOC is staunchly against all forms of verbal abuse and online bullying, and believes that no one should be discriminated against, harassed or vilified because of their sex, race, disability, family status, age, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) renders unlawful any act of “racial vilification”, i.e. engaging in any public activity that incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, another person on the ground of race. If the act further involves threat of physical harm to persons, their property or premises, it constitutes “serious vilification” under the RDO and is a criminal offence.

“It is understandable for people to be distressed by the social unrest over the past few months, but by no means does it justify any sort of discriminatory or vilifying language, which is counter-productive and serves only to escalate tensions,” said Mr Ricky CHU, Chairperson of the EOC. “We call on all social media operators to fulfil their social responsibility by proactively seeking out ways to root out hate speech online and minimise the harm done to vulnerable communities.”

Mr Chu continued, “The EOC also appeals to all sectors in society to find harmony in difference, and common ground in diversity – a core value of our city we must all continue to uphold. There is simply no need and no room for verbal abuse. Instead, we should strive to be empathetic and respectful of others, and express ourselves in a peaceful and rational manner.”