|LCQ3: Amendments to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and Disability Discrimination Ordinance
Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and an oral reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Stephen Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 21):
In February 1999, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) submitted to the Chief Executive a number of proposals for amending the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance. The Home Affairs Bureau and the Health and Welfare Bureau responded in November 2000 that they had no objection in principle to some of the proposals put forward by EOC. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
(a) whether they have undertaken preparatory work since November 2000 for introducing amendments to the aforesaid two ordinances; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) apart from making a provision in the Race Discrimination Bill to extend the coverage of unlawful sexual harassment in the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, whether the authorities have decided to legislate in respect of the other proposals to which they have no objection in principle; if so, of the details; and
(c) whether they will introduce the relevant legislative amendments into this Council in the current legislative session; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In November 2000, we gave the Legislative Council's Panel on Home Affairs the Administration's response to the proposals made by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in 1999 for amending the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) and Disability Discrimination Ordinance. In that response, we stated clearly that while the Administration had no objection in principle to some of the proposals, the details and the impact of the proposals upon implementation needed to be further discussed and assessed in consultation with the EOC. At the same time, the Government also stated that it had reservations or had different views on the rest of the proposals. Moreover, some of the proposed amendments were considered not necessary.
The EOC's proposals and the Administration's initial response were discussed in detail at a subsequent meeting of the Legislative Council's Panel on Home Affairs in February 2001. At the meeting, members expressed their views and requested the Administration to reconsider its initial position on various issues.
On this basis, the policy bureaux concerned had initiated follow-up actions to consider the approach for implementing the relevant proposals and the necessary legislative provisions for the amendments.
As regards the EOC's proposal to extend the statutory provisions against sexual harassment to additional areas, we will expand the scope of protection against sexual harassment in educational establishments by extending the definition of sexual harassment in SDO to cover conduct which renders sexually hostile or intimidating the environment in which a woman works, studies or undergoes training, or carries out related or incidental activities. We have incorporated this proposed amendment to the SDO in the Race Discrimination Bill as the latter also deals with racial harassment in a similar manner. The Bill was introduced into this Council last December.
As regards the other amendments proposed by the EOC, some may have read-across implications on other anti-discrimination ordinances and others may affect the operation of the Government or other organisations. We shall consider the most appropriate way for follow up after the enactment of the Race Discrimination Bill.
Ends/Wednesday, November 21, 2007