Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

Media Statement about Online Comments Regarding COVID-19


In response to media enquiries about whether recent online comments on the case of a police officer infected by COVID-19 violate the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) and constitute “disability vilification”, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) released the following statement today (25 February 2020):

1. Since the EOC is obliged to handle all enquiries and complaints with due regard to confidentiality and on a need-to-know basis, the Commission is not in the position to comment on details of individual cases.

2. Under section 46 of the DDO, “vilification” refers to when a person, by any activity in public, incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, another person with a disability (PWD) or members of a class of PWDs. For instance, if a person states openly in public that people with a certain disability are useless and a burden to society, and should be banished from society, it may amount to unlawful vilification. Furthermore, section 47 of the DDO provides that when a person intentionally incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a PWD or members of a class of PWDs, by an activity in public that consists of threatening physical harm, or inciting others to threaten physical harm, towards a PWD or members of a class of PWDs, or towards the premises or property of the said PWD(s), such person commits the offence of serious vilification.

3. While certain individuals have, by riding on recent incidents related to COVID-19, gloated over and made cursing remarks against the infected patient of a particular profession through online and other platforms, these comments, though extremely inappropriate, cannot be reasonably interpreted as inciting hatred, serious contempt or severe ridicule towards the patient or PWD concerned, or towards other COVID-19 patients, let alone threatening physical harm towards these patients, their premises or property, or inciting others to make such a threat. The remarks therefore do not constitute disability vilification nor serious vilification as defined under the DDO.

4. Nonetheless, the EOC calls on the public to refrain from making these comments, which are not only generating social conflicts, but also against the core values of respect and inclusion of Hong Kong. The EOC appeals to the public to heed to reason and empathise with the needs of different communities amid the current ordeal facing the Hong Kong society, and stand in solidarity to fight and overcome the coronavirus epidemic.

5. The EOC has been actively and diligently handling enquiries and complaints about COVID-19 from members of the public. Furthermore, the Commission is making use of various channels, such as issuing media statements and feature articles, and giving media interviews, to release information and educate the public, calling on everyone to avoid discriminatory conduct and comments. The EOC will continue to monitor the situation closely, and adopt appropriate measures in light of the latest circumstances and need.

6. If members of the public have questions or grievances related to disability discrimination, vilification or serious vilification, they are welcome to contact the EOC by making an enquiry or lodging a complaint. The Commission will strive to provide assistance as appropriate.


Equal Opportunities Commission
25 February 2020