Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

The EOC Reports on Work Plans and Progress


Members of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met on 20 March (Thursday) at the 105th EOC Meeting and discussed various matters related to the Commission’s business.

The Chairperson of the EOC, Dr. York CHOW, reported on the strategic work areas of the Commission for 2014/15, which were to advocate equal education for ethnic minorities (EMs), to advance enhanced support for students with special education needs (SEN) and to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

Dr. CHOW said, “We are glad that the Government will provide an additional recurrent funding of $4.69M to the EOC for promoting racial equality. With the provision, the EOC plans to set up a Multi-ethnic Taskforce to enhance its work in the areas of public education, training, community outreach and liaison with schools, stakeholders, employers and service organizations, to strengthen support in addressing the education and employment needs of EMs as well as fostering social integration. With a view to effect policy changes, more research will be conducted to investigate further problems faced by the ethnic minorities. The new Taskforce will also monitor the Government’s policy on the EMs and its effects, especially in education and employment.”

“Additionally, the EOC will continue to closely monitor and follow up with the Government on the effectiveness of measures to enhance education support for students with SEN as laid out in the 2014 Policy Address. The EOC will not rule out the possibility of considering to conduct Formal Investigations into the issues of equal education for EM students and students with SEN in future,” added Dr. CHOW.

In the meeting, Members discussed the EOC’s draft guidelines on school uniforms under the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) to assist in the development and implementation of uniform rules in schools in accordance with the principles of equality. It has come to the EOC’s attention that there have been concerns by schools and parents of EM students involving school uniform policies. Most of these cases tend to focus on racial issues relating to religious belief.

Dr. CHOW explained, “Some religions and cultures require their adherents to conform to a particular dress code or to outwardly manifest their belief by wearing or carrying specific items. It is difficult to draw a clear line between race and religion as religious and cultural practices are often linked to racial identity. It may contravene the RDO if some imposed requirements or conditions indirectly discriminate against certain racial groups.”

“While school uniform rules are generally legitimate, they may affect children’s equality rights in some instances. Schools should be careful when imposing restrictions as it could amount to discrimination if there is no justification. The EOC’s guidelines suggest the schools to adopt an inclusive and transparent process in making their school uniform policy and related rules, while respecting different cultural, religious and racial backgrounds as well as equality between men and women,” Dr. CHOW emphasized.

Dr. CHOW urged the schools to exercise flexibility in accommodating the special needs and requirements of individual students. He also reminded the parents to balance between the best interest of their children to receive education and their personal preferences over certain dress code or school uniform rules.

The EOC will distribute the said guidelines to all primary and secondary schools. Seminars on the subject will also be organized for school administrators and interested parents in mid-2014. 

Further, Members discussed the draft Discrimination Law Review consultation document to be used in the public consultation that will be launched in mid-2014. Based on the views collected in the consultation exercise and the Commission’s operational experiences, the EOC will make recommendations to the Government for law amendments.

Meanwhile, Members noted that the EOC is conducting a separate study on discrimination faced by sexual minorities in Hong Kong and whether legislation is needed to provide protection against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Members noted that a selection board has been formed to select the suitable research team to conduct the study. 

Lastly, the Commission reviewed the work of the EOC in 2013. Members noted that the total number of public enquiries had slightly increased from 16,502 in 2012 to 16,738 cases in 2013. Members also noted that the EOC had conducted more training courses for the public and private sectors, in particular on preventing and managing sexual harassment in the workplace. The number of participants attending the training courses had increased considerably, from 21,572 in 2012 to 24,967 in 2013. All these reflect that the public is increasingly concerned with equal opportunity issues.

For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW (Tel : 2106-2226)

Equal Opportunities Commission
20 March 2014