The EOC Reports on Work Plans and Progress
Members of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met on 19 December 2013 (Thursday) at the 104th EOC Meeting and discussed various matters related to the Commission’s business.
The Chairperson of the EOC, Dr. York CHOW, reported the progress of the Commission’s work following the EOC Forum held in September 2013 which received favourable responses from the public. The questionnaire for collecting participants’ feedback in the Forum recorded that 70% of those who provided feedback supported the EOC’s 3-Year Strategic Work Plan.
In the meeting, EOC Members reviewed the work progress of the Discrimination Law Review of the existing anti-discrimination ordinances (DLR). Members deliberated the different areas preliminarily identified for amendment in the current equal opportunity laws. They noted that representative stakeholder groups, through preliminary meetings with the EOC, had provided feedback on the structure and contents of a consultation document for the EOC to refine the options. It was envisaged that the public consultation on DLR would be launched in mid-2014 for a period of three months.
Dr. CHOW briefed Members on the EOC’s meetings with the senior management of all the local universities since September this year. The EOC urged the universities to mainstream equal opportunities (EO) in their policies and practices. In addition to designating staff in handling EO matters, the universities were suggested to put in place proper procedures for handling sexual harassment complaints from students and staff. On providing support for students with disability and special educational needs, the EOC encouraged the universities to develop a common platform on sharing experiences, technology and teaching resources that contribute to enhancing students’ learning. The EOC also requested the universities to review their Chinese language requirements for particular faculties and exercise flexibility in the admission of ethnic minority students.
In reviewing the EOC’s efforts to raise public awareness on preventing sexual harassment, Dr. CHOW presented a series of actions which included conducting surveys, organizing seminars and workshops, developing a framework of sexual harassment policies, as well as providing training on the formulation of sexual harassment policy for both the education and business sectors. Besides, Dr. CHOW introduced a newly developed webpage on sexual harassment in the EOC website. The dedicated webpage, which was designed for schools/universities and workplace, provides a “one-stop” search for information related to sexual harassment.
In the light of increasing momentum in calling for legislation on age discrimination, Dr. CHOW introduced the EOC’s initiative to conduct an exploratory study on age discrimination in employment. The study will provide an overview on age discrimination in the workplace and explore the need for legislating against age discrimination in Hong Kong. It will also solicit views from stakeholders on the incentives for older people to be engaged in employment, their preferred modes of employment and employers’ concern about an aging workforce.
Furthermore, Dr. CHOW informed Members that the EOC gave a presentation to the Advisory Group on the Elimination of Discrimination against Sexual Minorities in early December 2013 and views were exchanged on the subject. In response to Hong Kong’s obligations under international covenants to prohibit discrimination against sexual minorities and increasing public demand for legislating against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), Dr. CHOW announced the EOC’s initiative to undertake a study on discrimination on the grounds of SOGI.
The proposed study will be a systematic research to identify discrimination, harassment and vilification encountered by the sexual minorities in the public domain, including employment, education and training, social interaction, public access, services and facilities, management of premises. Based on the findings of the study, which will be disseminated to the public, the EOC will consult public views through questionnaires and focus groups discussion on measures to tackle the discrimination, including the possibility of legislating against discrimination on the grounds of SOGI.
After incorporating Members’ comments on the proposal, the EOC will invite professional research teams with in-depth knowledge and expertise in SOGI issues to submit research proposals. It is expected that the project would be completed within 12 months after commissioning.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
19 December 2013