LGBT Inclusion Awards 2016 Ceremony and Gala Dinner
Organised by Community Business
Remarks by Prof Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming, Chairperson, Equal Opportunities Commission （只備英文版）
Fern; Ladies and gentlemen,
Good evening. I am delighted to be here with you to celebrate the champions of LGBT inclusion in both the corporate and public sectors.
First, congratulations to Fern and her team for the success of this awards scheme, now in its second year. Through the years, Community Business has been a valued partner to us at the Equal Opportunities Commission (or EOC), working closely with us on our shared goal of advancing equality for all.
On behalf of the EOC, I also want to take this opportunity to recognise the efforts and dedication of the nominated organisations and individuals, who have all made contributions to a fairer and better Hong Kong for all.
It is, of course, fitting that today is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Certainly, from the Commission’s perspective, there is no room for such prejudice in an international city and business centre like Hong Kong. Over the course of my term, I look forward to working with all of you in this room to fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and intersex status.
Most of you are probably already aware of the EOC’s efforts on this front. I want to briefly mention two initiatives in particular – starting with our Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status, which was commissioned to the team from the Gender Research Centre at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
We are grateful to have been nominated for the “LGBT Advocacy Award” category, along with the GRC, for this study. We believe that, as the most comprehensive study of its kind in Hong Kong, it can lay the groundwork for the entire Hong Kong society to approach this issue in a rational and evidence-based way, so as to map the way forward on protecting the equal rights of the LGBTI community. Based on the study’s findings, the EOC has called on the Government to conduct public consultation on introducing anti-discrimination legislation on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. We view this to be a necessary step to securing equality for the LGBTI community, and a crucial opportunity for everyone in the community to share their views and contribute to formulating the legislation.
Many of you are also aware that the EOC released in March our submissions to the Government on the Discrimination Law Review – which was a culmination of a three-year process to comprehensively examine our existing discrimination Ordinances, so as to modernise them to fit the needs of the 21st century society. One of our named higher priority issues involves protection against marital and family status discrimination, and possible legal recognition, for persons in cohabiting relationships, both same-sex and opposite-sex. We believe that this is a key first step to necessary reforms that would have wide-ranging impact on diverse types of families.
Indeed, this is a much larger issue than just the anti-discrimination legislation, since anti-discrimination protection for persons in cohabiting relationships cannot be comprehensive or effective without some form of legal recognition for cohabitating relationships in Hong Kong. Therefore, the EOC proposes that the Government first conduct further research or consultation, with a view to determining the content and scope of the provisions, assessing what exceptions should apply, and taking into account the evidence and views of relevant stakeholders. The consultation should also consider the possible different methods of recognising such relationships.
Since the release of these reports, the EOC has met with a number of stakeholders, including some of you in this room, to reiterate our recommendations to the Government and explore ways to cooperate and advance these issues. In this respect, I am conscious that the EOC cannot act alone. We need to be working collaboratively and supporting one another, at multiple levels and across sectors, to motivate true action and change.
The business community has been taking a leading role on this front, both within your respective companies and, increasingly, in speaking out on external developments and calling for change. There is much that the rest of the community can learn, for instance, from the policies and practices that you have put in place internally within your organisations. Such good practices can set an example to other employers in Hong Kong, many of whom may still have limited understanding on the issues or hold negative stereotypes about sexual minorities.
Tonight, in addition to all the inclusion champions from the LGBTI community, I am very pleased to see specific recognition of allies and sponsors among the awards categories – certainly, more positive role models and advocates from the corporate and professional sectors would help educate society that equality for the LGBTI community is an issue that all of us, whatever our sexual orientation or gender identity, must learn about and work together to achieve.
My team and I look forward to your continued support as we strive towards this shared goal of inclusion for all.
Many thanks again for inviting me, and my congratulations to all of you.