Following is the speech (translated from Chinese) by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in moving the Second Reading of the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 2014 in the Legislative Council today (June 25):
I move the Second Reading of the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 2014 (the Bill).
Currently, under section 40(1) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (the Ordinance), it is unlawful for a service provider to sexually harass a customer. However, sexual harassment of service providers by customers does not fall within the scope of protection under the Ordinance.
The flourishing service industries in Hong Kong are one of the pillars of the Hong Kong economy. There is a large number of employees in the service industries, for example, there are over 260 000 workers in the retail industry, over 230 000 workers in the food and beverage services industry, over 45 000 nurses and over 12 000 flight attendants.
In order to protect employees of the service industries from sexual harassment by customers, and to offer legal protection to these employees, the Government proposes to "render unlawful any sexual harassment against providers or prospective providers of goods, facilities or services" through the Bill.
Furthermore, in consideration of the unique job nature and environment on ships and aircraft, the Administration made reference to the practice of other jurisdictions and decides to extend the scope of application of the Ordinance in respect of sexual harassment between service providers and customers from cases that take place within the territory of Hong Kong to those that take place on board a Hong Kong registered ship or aircraft while outside Hong Kong. This will afford the same legal protection for these customers and service providers.
President, the Government has earlier consulted the Panel on Constitutional Affairs of the Legislative Council on the policy direction of the legislative amendments and obtained its support. We have also consulted and obtained support from the Equal Opportunities Commission and relevant labour organisations on the details of this legislative proposal.
I hereby appeal to Members to pass the Bill as early as possible.
Ends/Wednesday, June 25, 2014