LGBT+ equality and non-discrimination in Macau

Jason CHAO
Dec 31, 2020 · 3 min read

In Macau, legal protection against discrimination is inadequate on sexual orientation ground and non-existent on gender identity ground. Currently, only in the following two areas, gays, lesbians and bisexuals enjoy equality before the law.

· Treatment of job seekers and employees by employers (Article 6 of Law 7/2008: Labour Relations Law)

· Treatment of people by the officers of the Commission Against Corruption (Article 31-A of Law 10/2000 amended by Law 4/2012: Organisation Law of the Commission Against Corruption)

Macau officials and some community leaders have, for a significant amount of repetitions, invoked the notion of “a lack of social consensus” to respond to the call for equal rights for the LGBT people. Rainbow of Macau observes that so-called “a lack of social consensus” is no more than an excuse for the state party to evade the responsibilities of rectifying discriminatory laws.

According to the 2019 Macau LGBT+ Survey, which was a survey conducted within the Macau LGBT+ community by Rainbow of Macau, the LGBT+ people in Macau perceive a high level of discrimination. On a scale of 1 to 10, the mean for the level of subjective discrimination against LGBT+ is 7.17. In particular, gay people experience higher discrimination (7.43) compared to other sexual orientation groups.

Figure 1. Level of Subjective Discrimination by Sexual Orientation

In the same study, LGBT+ respondents overwhelmingly agree that the law and policy in the areas of housing, education, healthcare, public administration, gender recognition, and criminal law should be updated to provide equal or higher protection of the LGBT people.

Table 1. Change of law and policy for the protection of equality
Table 2. Areas of law and policy which should be updated for the protection of equality

The constant jurisprudence of the HRC reaffirms that the prohibition against discrimination under article 26 of the ICCPR also comprises discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.[1] The main ideas about minority rights as in the United Nations Minorities Declaration also apply to the LGBT+ people.[2] A “social consensus” must not be a prerequisite for the protection of minority rights. In lieu of which, the state party should proactively promote the protection of the minorities.[3]

Rainbow of Macau suggests that Human Rights Committee asks Macau, China to provide a list of laws in Macau that include a provision on the principle of equality or non-discrimination in which sexual orientation or gender identity is not a protected characteristic.

This article is an excerpt from the 2020 submission of the Rainbow to Macau to the UN Human Rights Committee.

For the 2019 Macau LGBT+ Survey referred to in this article, see the report in full or the presentation slides.

[1] CCPR/C/123/D/2318/2013, para. 7.3.

[2] United Nations, Minority Rights: International Standards and Guidance for Implementation, p. 8.

[3] Ibid, p. 3.