The Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2018 was passed at the Hong Kong Legislative Council on 11 June 2020, filling gaps within the existing law to offer a wider scope of legal protection against discrimination and harassment.
According to Deacons, the Bill amendments will cover the following four anti-discrimination legislations in Hong Kong:
Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO)
Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)
Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO)
Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO)
Following the passage of the Bill, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) introduced the gazettal of the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 last Friday to implement the following:
Providing protection from direct and indirect discrimination, as well as victimisation for breastfeeding women in key sectors, such as employment, the provision of services and facilities, and education under the SDO; providing protection from sexual, racial and disability harassment in common workplaces where there is no employment relationship (eg consignment workers, volunteers and interns) under the SDO, RDO and DDO;
Providing protection from racial and disability harassment where customers harass service providers, including where such acts occur on Hong Kong registered aircraft or ships and while they are overseas under the RDO and DDO; introducing protection from direct and indirect racial discrimination and racial harassment by imputation under the RDO;
Protecting an associate of a person from direct racial discrimination and racial harassment under the RDO;
Providing protection from sexual and disability harassment for members and prospective members of clubs, by the management of the clubs;
Repealing requirements of an intention to discriminate as a pre-condition to awarding damages for acts of indirect discrimination under the SDO, FSDO and RDO.
Provisions making breastfeeding discrimination unlawful will come into force one year later on 19 June 2021.
After the amendments, internship, apprentice and volunteers will be able to file complaints regarding to racial, sexual and disability-related discrimination to the EOC.
EOC senior legal counsel Peter Reading said that with the new law, shopping centres would also need to consider whether to provide nursing rooms. Employers might want to make adjustments to their working conditions, such as allowing nursing mothers to work part time or to take breaks for expressing milk.
“It is an important milestone in the history of Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination legislation,” chairman of EOC Ricky Chu Man-kin said.