23 October 2016
York Chow (inset) has pointed out that public opinion has swung in favor of a new law to protect sexual minorities. Photos: Reuters, Xinhua
York Chow (inset) has pointed out that public opinion has swung in favor of a new law to protect sexual minorities. Photos: Reuters, Xinhua

Most Hongkongers now in favor of law to protect LGBT groups

A majority of Hongkongers are now in favor of legislation to protect sexual minorities such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, according to a survey commissioned by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

Releasing a report titled “Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status”, the EOC said on Tuesday that public opinion has swung in favor of an anti-discrimination law. 

A poll has shown that 55.7 percent of 1,005 people interviewed over telephone agreed that a new law was necessary to protect LGBT groups, it said.

That marked a huge increase in support for the legislation as a previous study conducted in 2005 showed only 28.7 percent of the people felt that a new law was needed.

In the latest survey, a vast majority — 91.8 percent — of youth aged between 18 and 24 considered anti-discrimination legislation necessary, while 48.9 percent of those with religious views also concurred.

The poll was undertaken by the Gender Research Centre of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Based on the survey results, the EOC suggested that the government should start discussing details of the anti-discrimination law for LGBT groups, rather than debating whether such a law is necessary, commission chairman York Chow Yat-ngok said.

Chow noted that the results indicate there has been a significant change in public opinion over the last decade in support of legislation, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Given the demonstrably strong support from young people on this issue, public opinion will likely continue to shift in favor of legislation over the coming years, said Chow.

Hence, the EOC is calling on the government to consider launching a public consultation on introduction of anti-discrimination legislation.

LGBT rights groups Rainbow action and Woman Coalition of Hong Kong said it is a pity that EOC has only recommended the launch of public consultation instead of calling for immediate initiation of the legislation process.

Some groups also accused the commission of failing to lay out a clear definition of discrimination in its survey.

As for the government, it said it will keep communicating with all sections in society to map out path for the future. 

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