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II. Sex Discrimination

Discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy and sexual harassment are prohibited under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance ("SDO"). The law applies to both females ( section 5 of the SDO) and males ( section 6 of the SDO) and covers the following eight fields:

  • employment;
  • education;
  • provision of goods, services or facilities;
  • disposal or management of premises;
  • eligibility to vote for and to be elected or appointed to advisory bodies;
  • participation in clubs;
  • activities of the Government;
  • practising as barristers (any offer of pupillage and training provided to barristers).

Although the provisions of the SDO also apply to the Government, some areas are exempt from the law. These include:

  • acts performed under any immigration legislation;
  • entry into and departure from Hong Kong;
  • acts done for the purpose of complying with the requirements of other existing statutory provisions (e.g. different physical requirements between male and female police officers, and other exceptions listed in schedule 5 of the SDO).
  1. Can an employer refuse to employ me because of my gender/sex? Under what circumstances can an employer use "genuine occupational qualification" as an excuse for sex discrimination?
  2. Further to question 1, do employers have to prove the existence of genuine occupational qualification (GOQ) as an exception for sex discrimination if they are being sued or if complaints have been made against them? What would happen if only part of the duties of a job involve gender/sex as a GOQ?
  3. How would a person's age co-relate to sex discrimination? Is it unlawful if different age requirements are applied to males and females when they apply for jobs or obtain goods/services?
  4. What is sexual harassment? Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, is sexual harassment prohibited in all environments?
  5. What can you do if you are sexually harassed?
  6. If an incident involving sexual harassment happened in an office or another part of the workplace, to what extent may the employer be held responsible or liable?
  7. What is marital status discrimination?
  8. Can an employer refuse to employ a job applicant because she is pregnant?
  9. Can an educational establishment or a service provider refuse to provide services or facilities to me because of my sex, pregnancy or marital status?
  10. What if I receive even worse treatment after I have lodged a complaint? If my friend is being discriminated against because he acts as a witness for me, can my friend also lodge a complaint?