The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) chair Alfred Chan Cheung-ming has asked pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow to respect his role as a member of the watchdog, following Chow’s anti-gay rights remarks.
“Even though EOC members may come from different backgrounds, I expect all of them to respect the principle of collective responsibility. Members must take responsibility for decisions made by the EOC,” Chan said in a statement on Thursday evening.
“Once a decision has been made in accordance with proper rules and procedures, EOC members are expected to support and protect the EOC’s image.”
The decision refers to the EOC’s endorsement last January of a report on legislating against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status. It asked the government to consider consulting the public on the matter.
The statement said Chan had spoken to Chow “to remind him of the issue of collective responsibility.”
Calls for resignation
The remarks came after civil groups and lawmakers issued a joint statement calling on Chow to resign from the equality watchdog. Last Friday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying re-appointed Chow, an incumbent EOC member, to the watchdog for a two-year term.
They criticised Chow for voicing opposition to sexual minority rights and leading anti-gay campaigns in the past. “How can we expect him to treat demands for minority interests equally, fairly and selflessly?” their statement said.
“Chow’s clear stance against LGBTQ rights and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance contradicts the position of the EOC,” pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan told HKFP earlier.
“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.”
A protest was scheduled for Friday to demand Chow step down from the watchdog.
On Tuesday, Chow signed a joint statement urging the government to appeal a landmark ruling that grants welfare benefits to a gay civil servant for his husband. He wrote on Facebook urging people to oppose the legalisation of same-sex marriage and protect “traditional family values.”
The government filed an appeal against the decision on Thursday.
Last Wednesday, Alfred Chan wrote in an oped to Hong Kong Free Press that Hong Kong should continue to strive for LGBTQ equality in light of the landmark court decision.
He added: “Even though the EOC has no statutory power over marriage issues, we believe it is time to start discussing the legal recognition and other issues associated with same-sex marriage.”
Chow did not return emails or calls despite repeated attempts to reach him.
The lawmaker is also embroiled in a scandal whereby he was found to have allowed Leung Chun-ying to edit a document in order to alter the scope of a legislative investigation into a controversial payout Leung received from Australian firm UGL.
The Equal Opportunities Commission, established in 1996, is a statutory body tasked with promoting equality and implementing anti-discrimination laws.