Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) chairperson Dr York Chow Yat-ngok has responded to groups critical of the government agency’s participation in LGBT rights events, while maintaining silence on his desire to seek a second term in office.

At an EOC meeting on Thursday, Chow told local media that the commission is “empowered to advocate for a society of inclusion and diversity,” adding that they also “need to communicate and pay respect to everybody with different characteristics, and that will include sexual orientations.”

york chow
York Chow addresses local media. Photo: RTHK.

Chow said that government officials have not asked him if he would like to stay on for a second term in office, and explained that none of the his predecessors at the EOC had served beyond a single term.

“I do not want to make too many assumptions [regarding a second term], but it has been a meaningful two years on the job…We’re a public organisation, so we’re accountable to the 7 million people in Hong Kong – I think the media knows whether or not we have done a good job,” he said.

Earlier this month, the government issued an open call for a new EOC chairperson to begin work when Chow’s contract expires in March 2016.

LGBT advocacy group Pink Alliance last week expressed “disappointment” at Chow’s upcoming replacement, commending the EOC for having “dutifully exercised its mandate” under Chow’s leadership.

“Dr Chow understands that as EOC chairman, he has the responsibility to ensure that Hong Kong continues to better its anti-discrimination legislation to safeguard the equal rights of all its residents,” the group said in a position paper.

Chow said that the EOC will not relocate its office in the near future, and he hopes the government will set up a permanent home for the Commission at its present address in Taikoo Shing, where their current lease is set to expire in two years.

Pink Dot Hong Kong in Tamar Park
Pink Dot Hong Kong in Tamar Park. Photo: pinkdot.hk.

The EOC, which was established in 1996, received over 130,000 proposals from individuals and groups regarding research and legislation for sexual orientation discrimination, gender affirmation, and the intersexed.

This year saw 342 cases of complaints lodged to the EOC, 312 of which pertained to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

Pink Dot, an annual event in support of the LGBT community, will be held on Sunday in Tamar Park, Admiralty. Chow attended the inaugural Pink Dot in 2014 in his capacity as EOC chairperson.

Karen cheung hong kong

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.