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Summary: Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation: A Hong Kong Study
Author: Holning Lau & Rebecca L. Stotzer
Summarised by Phyllis Lee (Associate)
Through the development of case laws, Hong Kong’s laws have been reformed significantly to protect the rights of sexual minorities. Nonetheless, Hong Kong remains to offer no legal protection against sexual orientation discrimination in the private sphere, leaving the problem of employment discrimination untackled. For instance, despite the Equal Opportunities Commission’s application of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance in resolving complaints on one’s transgender status, it has been criticized for its insensitivity in handling such cases.
Conduction of the Survey
The nature and extent of sexual orientation discrimination are still under-researched in Hong Kong. Although many studies have been conducted in other parts of the world to reflect how many respondents are troubled by sexual orientation discrimination, foreign studies’ applicability to Hong Kong is limited due to the underlying cultural differences.
Thus, the author’s survey aims to examine 1) the prevalence of sexual orientation-based discrimination, (2) risk factors associated with experiencing discrimination, and (3) the relationship between experiencing employment discrimination and psychological outcomes in Hong Kong.
First, demographic questions concerning the respondents’ personal information and statuses were presented. Next, the survey asked basic questions about life circumstances, such as the past experiences of workplace discrimination and whether they have disclosed their sexual orientation to colleagues. Lastly, questions regarding respondents’ psychological concerns were raised.
Findings of the Survey
Nearly one-third of respondents reported discrimination which was simultaneously associated with negative psychological outcomes. Moreover, the study suggests that sexual orientation minorities in Hong Kong often suffer indirect discrimination in the form of pressure to remain closeted.
The survey reveals the severity of Hong Kong’s workplace discrimination which the policy and legislation makers have often turned a blind eye to. The survey’s findings call for the urgent implementation of sexual orientation anti-discrimination law to address the inequality and prejudice that is highly prevalent in the private employment sector.
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