LGBT charter in planning stages

Local | Mandy Zheng 10 Jun 2020

Plans to introduce a voluntary charter on discrimination against sexual minorities in Hong Kong are under way as officials look into existing policies adopted by neighboring governments.

In a document sent to the Legislative Council, the constitutional and mainland affairs bureau said it has been drawing up a charter against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination to be voluntarily adopted by businesses and organizations.

"We will consider a suitable time to introduce the charter, having regard to the circumstances of various trades and industries after the pandemic," the bureau said.

"No discrimination, harassment or vilification of customers, buyers or tenants of premises, employees or students on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity would be allowed for those endorsing the charter."

The document also detailed findings of a study on anti-discrimination efforts made by 15 governments including the United States, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

The study showed that some authorities have outlawed discriminatory behaviors based on sexuality and also focused on raising public awareness, sexuality education at schools and providing tailored social services.

But the bureau said it noticed certain degrees of "concern or objection in the society," citing the example of South Korea, where those opposing an anti-discrimination law argued it may violate religious freedoms.

"A balance has to be struck between the right to enjoy freedoms of religion, conscience or moral value and protection of LGBT rights," the bureau said.

The bureau asked for advice from lawmakers on the document, aiming to "put forward the directions of work" for the SAR's anti-LGBT discrimination policies.

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