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LGBTI rights & ladies' night, studio discussion with former chairman of EOC, York Chow & solicitor Michael Vidler (23 Apr 2016)

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 This week, Stephen Davies sitting in for Steve Vines. The Equal Opportunities Commission was set up in 1996, with the remit to promote equal opportunity in our society and implement our laws against discrimination. Since its establishment, the commission has pushed for ordinances on discrimination by gender, disability, family status or race in areas covering, among others, employment, educational needs, and facilities for people with disabilities. But the government still hasn’t enacted anti-discrimination laws on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, or modified the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to cover LGBTI issues. What’s become known as the LGBTI community might not have to fear criminal prosecution as it once did, but Hong Kong still lags behind on gay rights. And the recent appointment of Alfred Chan, a man who has previously expressed pretty conservative views, as chairman of the watchdog, has rights activists and the LGBTI community worried. As well as being far from the world’s most progressive city on LGBTI rights, Hong Kong likely still has some catching up to do on simple issues of sexism. The Women’s Commission was set up in 2001 to look after women’s rights and development, but some have pointed out that real equality involves equal protection for both men and women on issues such as parenting, domestic abuse, and even gender-based price differentiation. There’s been a bit of progress on child raising, after much debate and opposition, mainly from the commercial sector. Since February last year, men have finally been entitled to take three days of statutory paternity leave. Recently, also against opposition from commercial interests, a district court ruling also found discriminatory the long-established practice of gender-based pricing policies in bars and clubs. There’s a principle sometimes invoked in law: “de minimis non curat lex” or “the law does not concern itself with the trivial”. It was invoked by the night clubs in the pricing case, and one individual in the story before the break. But it’s a principle widely recognized not necessarily to apply to civil rights and equal opportunity cases. After all, on first glance, what’s more trivial than where you can sit on a bus or what water fountain you can use? With us in the studio to discuss the state of equal rights in Hong Kong are the former chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, York Chow and Solicitor and Advocate Michael Vidler.

Program: 
The Pulse
Publish Date: 
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Station: 
RTHK
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