hong-kong-christian-schoolHong Kong: A Christian school in Hong Kong has banned gay teachers and made staff sign a ‘Morality Contract’ in a case both activists and the Equal Opportunities Commission say calls for tough anti-gay discrimination laws in Hong Kong.

Employees of International Christian School in Sha Tin it declared, should be above reproach in areas of “sexual orientation and behavior, marital and parental relationships, personal finances, addictive substances, and leisure activities,” media reported.

Any contraventions of what is known within the school as the “Morality Contract” the guidelines said, would be dealt with “in accordance with biblical principles Matthew 18: 15-19” — a gospel tract suggesting unrepentant sinners should be cast out like “a heathen.”

International media reported how when an applicant for a teaching post emailed the school asking for clarification, she received a curt reply from Sandy Burnett, administration and recruitment coordinator at the 1,200-pupil school, where fees range from HK$95,200 (US$12,265) to HK$129,300 per annum.

“Basically, we look for good Christian role models for our students,” Burnett wrote. “We do not condone same-sex relationships, extramarital relationships, (or) couples of opposite sex living together outside of marriage.

“As for leisure activities: we do not condone gambling, drunkenness, illegal drug taking/selling, basically any activities which detract from giving God glory. Smoking on our property or in students’ presence is also not appropriate.”

The art teacher, who was invited to apply for the job by a recruitment agency, was appalled. “I was incensed, and didn’t think this kind of discrimination could happen in Hong Kong,” she said.

“It saddens me to think they can get away with this when they should be teaching their students tolerance. If they want to say you can’t live with your partner that’s one thing but to say you can’t be gay is unacceptable. It’s something people can’t control. It’s like saying you can’t be black.”

In many countries, barring gay applicants from a job would be against the law. However, in Hong Kong — as the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) complains — there is legislation against sex, race and disability discrimination but none against gay discrimination.

It is high time for a change, according to John Erni, chairperson of the Pink Alliance. “This case makes it very evident that Hong Kong needs an anti-discrimination law on the grounds of sexuality and people’s sexual preferences,” he argued.

“This woman cannot take the case to the EOC because there is no law or grounds to make a claim. It is frightening that an educational institution has this blatant discrimination policy written into their hiring procedure but there is nothing in the law people can take it to.

The effect of the beliefs on children at the International Christian School was the main concern, Erni said. “Education is intended to train students to be as open-minded and cosmopolitan in their world view as possible, but this type of education closes people’s minds,” he said.

There are currently anti-discrimination laws in Hong Kong outlawing discrimination against people on the grounds of sex, race, disability or family status, but gay discrimination does not breach any existing laws.

There is a voluntary Code of Practice against Discrimination in Employment on the Ground of Sexual Orientation issued by the government which the EOC said “aims to facilitate self-regulation on the part of employers and employees in eliminating discriminatory practices.”

Source: myasiaout.com, shanghaiist.com, chinadailyasia.com