The Association for the Advancement of Feminism expresses regret over Legco’s vote against Cyd Ho’s motion to conduct public consultation on sexual orientation discrimination leglsiation
In 1996 the Hong Kong government first proposed to conduct consultation on Sexual Orientation Discrimination Legislation, but no progress has been made since. Furthermore, in 2001 and 2005 the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had twice criticized the Hong Kong government for not passing legislation on equal rights for people of all sexual orientations, pointing out that the omission of such legislation should be regarded as a major concern for society.
Discrimination is a serious violation of human rights that cannot be tolerated. All human beings are born equal and should have equal opportunities in society. It is a Government’s fundamental responsibility to protect people of different sexual orientations. Misunderstandings towards the homosexual population abound, and those in power have a responsibhility to clarify and debunk them. Sexual Orientation Discrimination Legislation will be an important instrument for the Hong Kong SAR Government to achieve this task. The implementation of such laws should be undertaken in consultation with legal experts, institutions and various stakeholders including those who have faced discrimination in the community. The Equal Opportunities Commission and other statutory bodies have already expressed support for the Legislation. Most importantly, so have the public, therefore a public consultation is indeed necessary.
The outcomes of the debate on Cyd Ho’s motion does not have binding powers, but even so, the majority of the Members of the Council are unwilling or unable to understand their responsibility in forcing the government to fulfill its commitment to abide to international conventions. We express utmost regret towards those LegCo members who have either voted against or abstained from voting. During the debate on this motion, we heard remarks from numerous Councillors that are full of bias and deeply prejudiced against homosexuals. These are expressions that stem from ignorance and discriminatory attitudes and beliefs. There exists, for example, a misconception that mainstream society does not accept homosexuality and therefore a public consultation must be ruled out. Moreover, the discourse that “homosexuality undermines traditional family values” is so completely false and deeply ingrained that public discussion on legislation is in fact a matter of urgency. If Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance is now in place, such remarks – which are a form of public defamation and possible vilificaion – would not have been so reckless and unchecked.
Our aim is to ensure that the Hong Kong government fulfills its international commitment to protect equal opportunities and basic rights of all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, and truly build an international city where diverse social values can co-exist.