Equal Opportunities Commission



International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT): An Evening of Solidarity
Organised by Pink Alliance

Speech by Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission


Benita (Benita CHICK, IDAHOT Director, Pink Alliance), dear guests and friends,

Good evening! A big thank-you to Pink Alliance for inviting me to join this meaningful event tonight. I am delighted to be here.

I still remember one of the questions asked by a reporter at the press conference on 11 April, my very first day as the EOC Chairperson, was whether I knew any LGBTI friends. While I never take sexual orientation into account when making friends, the fact remains that I had hardly known any LGBTI friends – particularly in my younger days – when “coming out of the closet” was such a challenging idea that many members of the LGBTI community wouldn’t even think about it back then. Suffice to say it was a taboo subject until perhaps 10 to 15 years ago, when more and more LGBTI individuals began to come out.  And some overseas countries started to legislate against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to safeguard their fundamental rights.

Be that as it may, I have read reports from public channels about bisexual individuals facing a more acute degree of discrimination – some even labelled it as “double discrimination” – in that they have from time to time encountered negative or derogative comments about their sexual orientation from both within and outside the LGBTI community. Particularly, they are often described as a confused group not knowing what they really need. Such an attitude has caused them to feel alienated and helpless. Obviously work needs to be done to alleviate their distress, by raising awareness and changing mindsets, which is why events and experience-sharing sessions like our gathering tonight are especially meaningful, as it would help us get closer to truth, understanding and inclusiveness.

In Hong Kong, the Equal Opportunities Commission, or EOC in short, is the statutory organisation responsible for the implementation of the four anti-discrimination ordinances. Unfortunately, none of them satisfactorily addresses concerns raised by local LGBTI groups. Although calls for legislation date back to as early as 1994, i.e. some 25 years ago, the situation remains that there is no progress in this direction.

Since I assumed office, I have listened to views and ideas on equal opportunity issues from LGBTI organisations and other concern groups. I need not repeat all the polarised arguments in the seemingly endless debate, which you must be familiar with. I think they are the very factors leading to the stalemate.

Rather than allowing the stagnant situation to continue, I strongly believe that by focusing on practical issues, e.g. how to reduce, or even eliminate, discrimination against LGBTI individuals in the fields of employment, education, access to public facilities and services, etc., we may be able to find the way out. On the contrary, if we keep debating on some grand principles, where ideological differences are unlikely to be resolvable, we may accomplish little or nothing at all.

In this regard, the EOC volunteers to be a facilitator, to engage various stakeholders and interest groups in resuming a rational dialogue, and to deal with the practical issues systematically, hoping to make steady progress.

Last but not least, let me congratulate Pink Alliance for hosting this successful and memorable event.

Thank you very much, and have a lovely evening.