New head of Hong Kong’s equality watchdog appears cool on LGBTI rights

New head of Hong Kong’s equality watchdog appears cool on LGBTI rights
Hong's Kong's LGBTI community want the right to marry. Credits: @ameliachieu/Instagram

The new head of Hong Kong’s equality commission, Ricky Chu Man-kin, did not promise to deliver much anticipated anti-discrimination legislation when he took office on Thursday (11 April).

Chu said a ‘hastily made law’ could do more harm than good to society, according to the SCMP.

He also said the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) should be neutral to gain trust.

LGBTI activists in Hong Kong have been pushing for protection against discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity for years.

But, Chu said: ‘Rather than relying on harsh laws, the ultimate goal we would like to see is that there is no discrimination in society’.

‘This involves a change in the culture and needs education’

But, Hong Kong’s only openly-LGBTI lawmaker, Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, slammed Chu’s comments.

‘It is absurd that he says he wants the equal opportunities watchdog to remain neutral.’

‘You can’t be neutral when it comes to human rights and equal opportunities. It is his job to promote equal opportunities.’

Chu previously worked in anti-corruption commissions in Hong Kong.

On Thursday, Chu said he agreed same-sex marriage is a human right.

‘But that does not mean we should ignore other things and get that right at any expense’ he said.

LGBTI rights in Hong Kong

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Hong Kong. What’s more, there is currently no legislation to protect citizens against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, last month said the government was no closer to legalizing same-sex marriage.

The leader said the issue was still ‘controversial’.

But, earlier this year, two gay men won the right to challenge laws banning same-sex marriage.

A 21-year-old University Hong Kong student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, are leading the challenges.

In July last year, however, Hong Kong’s LGBTI had a reason to celebrate.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled the immigration department must recognize overseas same-sex marriages when issuing spousal visas.

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Author: Rik Glauert