New Hong Kong equal opportunities commissioner says he will protect LGBT people

Incoming head of the Equal Opportunities Commission attempts to ally fears his Christianity will prevent his protection of sexual orientation and gender identity minorities

The incoming head of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong has said that his Christian faith will not prevent him from protecting the rights of LGBT people.

Former health secretary Dr Chow Yat-ngok told South China Morning Post that he is a ‘liberal-minded Christian’ and he believes ‘no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation’.

Prominent Hong-Kongers questioned whether Chow could reconcile his Christianity with protecting the rights of LGBT people.

‘Like anyone else, Dr Chow has the right to his Christian faith,’ said Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai. ‘But his religious beliefs should not have any influence on his public duties in the commission.’

Chow’s predecessor Lam Woon-kwong was outspoken in his support for LGBT rights. He pushed forward the debate on same-sex marriage and criticized the government for their silence on LGBT issues.

Lam suggested that the government hold a consultation into LGBT rights in Hong Kong, but this was voted down by the legislative council and he lent his support to a campaign against gay bullying in schools in December 2011.

‘I was really impressed by Lam,’ gay journalist Bryan Chan Chi-yan told South China Morning Post. ‘We expect Dr Chow to be brave enough to speak out for not only gay, but bisexual and transsexual rights.’

Chow appeared placate those voices in Hong Kong that don’t support LGBT rights. ‘The community’s understanding and perception of this topic is diverse and sometimes even polarized,’ he said. ‘More education, discussion, debate, gathering of views and data on discrimination is necessary to build a community consensus.’

After his appointment on Tuesday, critics questioned whether Chow would be truly independent of the government considering his long-standing working relationship with it – he was worked for the health ministry since 2004.

‘If he needs to slam the government – even the Hospital Authority – would he be able to do it?’ asked John Tse Wing-ling, convenor of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission was established in 1996 with the mission to eliminate discrimination and promote equal opportunities.

by Anna Leach
Source – Gay Star News