ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: April 04, 2013 08:58 AM GMT
Legislation to protect gay rights will be the top priority of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), its new chairman announced on Monday,
“My religious background is relatively conservative, but even the Anglican Church in England is discussing this issue now,” said Dr York Chow in a radio interview.
“Regardless of what my religious background is or my personal view… these people should not be discriminated against,” said Dr Chow, an Anglican.
The EOC is a statutory body set up in 1996 that aims at the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status and race.
“Legislation is an effective way to work against social discrimination,” Chow said on Monday at the inauguration ceremony of Big Love Alliance, a gay rights group.
Noting that some lawmakers resist this issue and some religious groups oppose it, Chow said he hopes equal rights can be achieved in a peaceful way.
Founding members of Big Love Alliance welcomed his support but said they will wait and see if he would fulfill his promises.
Gay rights has been a contentious issue in the territory since it was first proposed in an equal opportunities bill in the 1990s.
The proposed Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance (SODO), resurrected in November, would provide equal access to civil rights, services and employment to the homosexual community.
Choi Chi-sum, secretary-general of the Society for Truth and Light, said the group was "disappointed" that Chow offered his public support before consulting groups that oppose the legislation.
The Protestant organization is the leading opponent to gay rights legislation.
Representatives from the group will meet with Chow to voice their concern that gay rights legislation might bring reverse discrimination against religious believers, Choi said.
Last month, Hong Kong Catholic diocese’s chancellor Father Lawrence Lee Len told ucanews.com the local Church is open to a public consultation.