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Equality watchdog commissioner called to resign for anti-LGBTI comments

People are calling for a member of Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to be removed for his negative stance on LGBTI issues.

Holden Chow was re-appointed to the EOC by Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

‘Chow’s clear stance against LGBTQ rights and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance contradicts the position of the EOC. He should step down from the commission,’ lawyer Ray Chan told Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).

‘It would have been fine if he had just been a lawmaker or a pressure group member. But it is not okay that he goes to EOC meetings with such a strong, pre-established position.’

The EOC is a statutory body that promotes equality and anti-discrimination recommendations to the Hong Kong government. Last month it called on the government to introduced legislation to protect LGBTI people from discrimination.

Chow has publicly spoken out ageing LGBTI rights and marriage equality. Last week he signed a joint statement asking the government to act on an historic ruling to pay a gay couple the same entitlements as straight couples in the civil service.

Unacceptable and not transparent 

More than 40 civil groups, lawmakers and three political parties signed their own joint statement calling for Chow to step down from the EOC.

‘Chow not only failed to fulfil his duty as an EOC member, he has also led anti-gay campaigns to deny sexual minority rights and incite homophobia,’ the statement said.

‘How can we expect him to treat demands for minority interests equally, fairly and selflessly?’

Billy Leung is a long-term LGBTI advocate in Hong Kong who argued not everybody who is on the EOC should share the same point of view but Chow’s outright opposition to LGBTI issues is a problem.

‘His reappointment serves no interest to Hongkongers for the promotion of equality as seen from the various comments he makes on human rights issue, and will tarnish the good work carried out by the EOC,’ he told HKFP.

‘Of course I don’t expect members to have the same position or pace. But in Chow’s case, it is not about the difference of pace; his entire mentality and actions are against same-sex marriage and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.’

The EOC confirmed its members were allowed to hold their own personal views.

‘The EOC has no statutory power to handle marriage laws… and unless this subject is discussed on the board, EOC members are free to express their personal opinions on same-sex marriage,’ it said.

But the EOC chair Alfred Chan Cheung-ming said on Thursday he as Chow to respect his role on the EOC.

‘Even though EOC members may come from different backgrounds, I expect all of them to respect the principle of collective responsibility,’ he said in a statement.

‘Members must take responsibility for decisions made by the EOC.’

Chow’s apology

Chow took to Facebook on the weekend to say he does not believe LGBTI people should be discriminated against.

‘In fact, in the workplace, people of different sexes should not be discriminated against, and they (his views) are in line with the position of the EOC,’ he wrote.

‘I insist on the family value and maintenance of a marriage system between a man and a woman… I will not waver in this position.’

Chow’s reappointment to the EOC comes amid a growing controversy between himself and Chief Executive Leung. He stepped down from the EOC after allegedly allowing Leung to alter a document involved in an investigation about a $6.5 million payment he received from an Australian company.