Hong Kong: Legislative Council Considers Anti-Discrimination Bill

The Legislative Council of Hong Kong is currently considering the possibility of legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. In late 1993, Legislative Councilor Anna Wu introduced an initial draft of a comprehensive Equal Opportunities Bill that would have outlawed discrimination on a variety of grounds, including "sexuality". The bill was subsequently broken down into several parts. In June 1995, the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance were enacted, and the following month, the government undertook to conduct studies on discrimination based on age, sexual orientation, and family status.

As part of the consultation process, the Legislative Council has produced a detailed Consultative Paper entitled Equal Opportunities: A Study on Discrimination on the Ground of Sexual Orientation. The report concludes that stigmatization of homosexuality is widespread in Hong Kong, and discusses discrimination in employment, accommodation, and services. However, although it is sympathetic to the concerns raised by gay and lesbian organizations, the report concludes that in enacting anti-discrimination legislation, "the rights of one group have to be balanced against the rights of other groups. Any anti-discrimination legislation on the ground of sexual orientation would need to strike an acceptable balance between the rights of all individuals and groups in society." The legislative Council has requested public comment on the Consultative Paper by March 31, 1996. Hong Kong activists fear that the Legislative Council will conclude that education - and not legislation - is the solution to anti-gay discrimination. They have requested that comments be submitted to the Council. The following points should be emphasized:

  1. The Legislative Council is to be applauded for undertaking the study of discrimination based on sexual orientation and for soliciting public input regarding the need for legislation.
  2. The Consultative Paper clearly shows that both legislation and education are needed to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a forward-looking city that took the decisive step of decriminalizing sodomy in 1991. The Legislative Council should now take action to join the ranks of the numerous city, state and national governments in Europe, North America, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region that have enacted anti-discrimination legislation. (If you are writing from such a place, please provide whatever details you can regarding the relevant legislation or policy.)
  3. Anti-discrimination legislation will benefit all citizens of Hong Kong. A signal from the Legislative Council that no form of discrimination is acceptable will help to create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect and will have positive effects in many different spheres of life.

Write to:

Hong Kong Government
Home Affairs Branch
31st Floor, Southorn Centre
130 Hennessy Road
Fax: 852-2591-6002

The entire text of the Consultation Paper, along with several other documents relating to the Equal Opportunities Bill, is available on the internet. This website contains a way to submit your comments directly to the Legislative Council. Please send copies of all electronic correspondence to iglhrc@iglhrc.org. If you do not have access to the web but would like to send your correspondence electronically, please e-mail it to iglhrc@iglhrc.org and we will forward it.