Equal Opportunities Commission

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Introduction to EOC

Welcome Message

Chairperson of Equal Opportunities Commission

Welcome to the official website of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

As a statutory body independent from the Government, the EOC is tasked to enforce four anti-discrimination laws in Hong Kong, namely the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance, and the Race Discrimination Ordinance. From conciliating disputes to representing victims in court, empirical research to policy advocacy, corporate training to public education, we strive to dismantle prejudice, facilitate redress for discrimination, and promote values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

On this website, you will learn more about your rights and obligations under the anti-discrimination laws. You will also find information on our services, studies, events and programmes.

At some point in your life, you or someone you know may have fallen victim to discrimination at school, in the workplace or at a shop, whether on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status or race. Indeed, discrimination is not an abstract concept. It happens in everyday settings, and its harm is real.

The EOC is here to turn that around and, when needed, to question the status quo, propose legal reform, and stand up for causes even if they are deemed unpalatable by segments of society.

If you have thoughts on how we can improve the site, be sure to let us know. We look forward to working with you in making Hong Kong a pluralistic and inclusive society we can all take pride in.

Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, IDS
Chairperson
Equal Opportunities Commission

Equal Opportunities Legislation

Hong Kong's anti-discrimination Ordinances prohibit discrimination against a person on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, disability, family status and race.
 

What is The EOC?

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) is a statutory body in Hong Kong. Established in May 1996, the EOC is responsible for implementing and enforcing the four anti-discrimination Ordinances. Namely, the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480) (SDO), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) (DDO) and the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527) (FSDO), and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602) (RDO).
 
The EOC has duties and powers under these four anti-discrimination Ordinances. We work towards the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sex, breastfeeding, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status and race.
 
We also aim to eliminate sexual harassment, harassment on the ground of breastfeeding, as well as harassment and vilification on the grounds of disability and race. We promote equality of opportunities between men and women, between persons with and without a disability and irrespective of family status and race.
 

Equal Opportunities Legislation

Hong Kong has four anti-discrimination Ordinances:
  1. Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480);
  2. Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487);
  3. Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527); and
  4. Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602).
 

(1) Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 480) (SDO)

It is unlawful under the SDO to discriminate against a person on the ground of sex, marital status, pregnancy or breastfeeding in prescribed areas of activities, including:
  • employment
  • education
  • provision of goods, services and/or facilities
  • disposal and/or management of premises
  • eligibility to vote for and to be elected or appointed to advisory bodies
  • participation in clubs
  • activities of the Government

In addition to protecting against discrimination, the SDO also protects a person from sexual harassment and victimization in prescribed areas of activities, including employment, education, provision of goods, services and/or facilities, disposal and/or management of premises, and membership of clubs.
 
The provisions relating to breastfeeding discrimination and harassment on the ground of breastfeeding  came into operation on 19 June 2021. As a result, the SDO also provides protection from harassment on the ground of breastfeeding, as well as both direct and indirect discrimination for breastfeeding mothers (including women who express breastmilk), in the aforesaid prescribed areas of activities.

In relation to the provision of goods, services and/or facilities, the SDO protects service providers from sexual harassment and harassment on the ground of breastfeeding by customers (and vice versa). This is so even if the harassment took place outside Hong Kong but on Hong Kong registered aircraft and ships.

The SDO renders sexual harassment and harassment on the ground of breastfeeding between workplace participants at a common workplace unlawful, even where there is no employment or employment-like relationship between them. A "workplace participant" covers persons working in the same workplace, being an employer, an employee, a contract worker, a principal, a commission agent, a partner, an intern and a volunteer.

The SDO protects members or prospective members of a club from sexual harassment and harassment on the ground of breastfeeding by the management of the club.
 

(2) Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) (DDO)
 

The DDO renders unlawful certain acts which discriminate against a person on the ground of disability when committed in prescribed areas of activities, including:
  • employment
  • education
  • provision of goods, services and/or facilities
  • access to premises
  • disposal and/or management of premises
  • participation in clubs and sporting activities
  • activities of the Government
Protection is also extended in respect of discrimination on the ground of the disability of an associate, or where the discrimination arises because a person is accompanied by an interpreter, a reader, an assistant or a carer, who provides services because of the person’s disability. An “associate” includes the person’s spouse, relative, carer, a person who is living with the person on a domestic basis, or who is in a business, sporting or recreational relationship with the person.

Protection is also extended in respect of discrimination on the ground of an imputed disability. It is unlawful for a person who discriminates against or harasses another person on the basis of a mistaken perception that a person has a disability.

Disability harassment and victimization are unlawful when committed in the areas of activities prescribed in the DDO. The DDO also protects people against vilification on the ground of disability.
 
In relation to the provision of goods, services and/or facilities, the DDO protects service providers from disability harassment by customers (and vice versa). This is so even if the harassment took place outside Hong Kong but on Hong Kong registered aircraft and ships.

The DDO renders disability harassment between workplace participants at a common workplace unlawful, even where there is no employment or employment-like relationship between them. The definition of a workplace participant is the same as under the SDO and RDO.

The DDO protects members or prospective members of a club from disability harassment by the management of the club.
 

(3) Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 527) (FSDO)
 

Under the FSDO, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the ground of family status. "Family status" means the status of having a responsibility for the care of an immediate family member, and "immediate family member", in turn, means a person who is related to someone by blood, marriage, adoption or affinity. Victimization is also unlawful under the FSDO.

The areas of activities for which a person may lodge a complaint under the FSDO are the same as those under the SDO, which include
  • employment
  • education
  • provision of goods, services and/or facilities
  • disposal and/or management of premises
  • eligibility to vote for and to be elected or appointed to advisory bodies
  • participation in clubs
  • activities of the Government
 

(4) Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 602) (RDO)
 

The RDO protects people against discrimination, harassment, and vilification on the ground of their race. Victimization is also unlawful under the RDO. "Race" means the race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin of a person. Under the RDO, it is unlawful to discriminate, harass or vilify a person on the ground of his/her race in prescribed areas of activities, including:
  • employment
  • education
  • provision of goods, services and/or facilities
  • disposal and/or management of premises
  • eligibility to vote for and to stand for election to public bodies, etc.
  • participation in clubs
Protection is extended in respect of discrimination on the ground of the race of the person’s associate. An “associate” includes the person’s spouse, relative, carer, a person who is living with the person on a domestic basis, or who is in a business, sporting or recreational relationship with the person.

Protection is also extended in respect of discrimination on the ground of race by imputation. It is unlawful for a person who discriminates against or harasses another person on the basis of a mistaken perception of the race of the other person.

The RDO renders racial harassment between workplace participants at a common workplace unlawful, even where there is no employment or employment-like relationship between them. The definition of a workplace participant is the same as under the SDO and DDO.

In relation to the provision of goods, services and/or facilities, the RDO protects service providers from racial harassment by customers (and vice versa). This is so even if the harassment took place outside Hong Kong but on Hong Kong registered aircraft and ships. 

What Can The EOC Do For You?

If you are unlawfully discriminated against in respect of the above areas of activities because of your sex, marital status, pregnancy, breastfeeding, disability, family status or race, you may lodge a complaint with the EOC. The EOC may investigate into the complaint and endeavour, by conciliation, to effect a settlement of the matter. If settlement cannot be reached, you may apply for other forms of assistance, including legal assistance. You may also initiate legal proceedings before the District Court under the four ordinances.
 
For more information about the Commission and the four ordinances, you may refer to other sections of this site, or contact the EOC office:
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