From the case of sex discrimination to the ideas of equality and equal opportunities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Equal Opportunities Commission v Director of Education marks an important milestone in the history of Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination movement. Prompted by a decades-old public policy allocating secondary school places to primary six students it believed to be discriminatory against girls, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) successfully challenged the now defunct government practice under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO). Based on this symbolic and educational decision, this chapter will begin by summarising the fact of the case, followed by an analysis of the claims in question and the meaning of sex discrimination. It will then discuss the value of equality, including its various rationales including “formal equality”, “treating like alike”, and “equal opportunities”. It will argue that, despite its universal appeal, equality as a policy justification can be both elusive and politically sensitive. Citing examples from Hong Kong and overseas jurisdictions, this chapter argues that an apparently benign anti-discrimination measure can in some cases generate difficult ethical dilemmas and controversies. Drawing on the plights of ethnic minority students in Hong Kong, this chapter will end with an observation that substantive equality requires proactive measures to help those whose existing disadvantages prevent them from competing fairly in society. Copyright © 2016 Springer Science+Business Media Singapore.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEthical dilemmas in public policy: The dynamics of social values in the east-west context of Hong Kong
EditorsBetty YUNG, Kam-por YU
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer-Verlag
Pages111-127
ISBN (Print)9789811004377, 9789811004353
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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equal opportunity
equality
discrimination
affirmative action
Hong Kong
overseas
national minority
Singapore
director
jurisdiction
appeal
secondary school
public policy
student
history
science
Values
education

Citation

Lee, M. Y. K. (2016). From the case of sex discrimination to the ideas of equality and equal opportunities. In B. Yung & K.-P. Yu (Eds.), Ethical dilemmas in public policy: The dynamics of social values in the east-west context of Hong Kong (pp. 111-127). Singapore: Springer Verlag.