EOC Welcomes Passage of Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) welcomes the passage of the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 in the Legislative Council today (11 June 2020).
The Bill improves protection from discrimination and harassment in Hong Kong by amending a number of clauses of the existing four anti-discrimination Ordinances including Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) and Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO). The amendments are:
- amending the SDO to provide protection from direct and indirect discrimination, as well as victimization for breastfeeding women in key sectors such as employment, the provision of services and facilities, and education;
- providing protection from sexual, racial and disability harassment in common workplaces where there is no employment relationship (eg consignment workers, volunteers and interns);
- providing protection from racial and disability harassment where customers harass service providers, including where such acts occur on Hong Kong registered aircraft or ships and while they are overseas;
- introducing protection from direct and indirect racial discrimination and racial harassment by imputation under the RDO;
- amending the RDO to protect an associate of a person from direct racial discrimination and racial harassment;
- providing protection from sexual and disability harassment for members and prospective members of clubs, by the management of the clubs; and
- repealing requirements of an intention to discriminate as a pre-condition to awarding damages for acts of indirect discrimination under the SDO, FSDO and RDO.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC said, “The EOC is glad to learn that the anti-discrimination legislation amendment bill was passed by the Legislative Council. These amendments not only simplify, harmonise and modernise the anti-discrimination legislation, but also demonstrates the Hong Kong’s commitment to improving the areas of protection in the anti-discrimination Ordinances and protecting our community from discrimination and harassment regardless of sex, disability, family status and race.”
The passed amendments to the anti-discrimination Ordinances were proposed by the Government in response to the EOC's Report on the Discrimination Law Review which was submitted in March 2016. This provided a number of recommendations to the Government on how the protections from discrimination and harassment under the four anti-discrimination Ordinances should be improved.
Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin pointed out that the amendments would help create a more inclusive working environment which is free from discrimination. He said, “One of the amendments to the Bill is to make breastfeeding discrimination unlawful. I believe it would enable breastfeeding women to continue their full and equal social and economic participation, as well as to fulfill parental obligations while staying in the work force. In addition, another key amendment will enhance the protection from sexual, disability and racial harassment for people who work in a common workplace, but there is no employment relationship. This will be particularly important for the many people who do voluntary work or internships in Hong Kong.”
“The EOC has already laid the groundwork to ensure the smooth implementation of the amendments to the Ordinances,” Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin remarked. “We will shortly be publishing a series of Guidance to help relevant stakeholders understand their rights and obligations in relation to all the amendments. We will also further step up our public education, publicity, and training efforts to enhance awareness and understanding of the amended legislation. We will certainly continue to work closely with our stakeholders to help them understand the new provisions.”
Equal Opportunities Commission
11 June 2020