Hong Kong Court Strikes Down Anal Sex Ban as “Unconstitutional” and “Discriminatory”

By Elizabeth O’Brien

  HONG KONG, July 18, 2007 ( - On Tuesday the high court of Hong Kong ruled against a law that prohibits homosexual activity in public. The ruling called the law "unconstitutional" and "discriminatory".

  The case involved two men, 19-year old Zigo Yau Yuk-lung and 30-year old Lee Kam-chuen, who were charged with having anal sex in their parked vehicle in April 2004, China’s The Standard reports.

  This case was the first prosecution of the 1991 law prohibiting homosexual "sex" in public. According to the court document, Section 118F (1) of the Crimes Ordinance states that a "man who commits buggery with another man otherwise other in private shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 5 years."

  The case was examined last year, but the magistrate dismissed it on the grounds that the restrictions discriminated between homosexual and heterosexual activity, says The Standard. This year, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal reexamined the case and ruled that with regards to sexual orientation, the law was "discriminatory and infringes the right to equality."

  The court document states, "Homosexuals constitute a minority in the community.  The provision has the effect of targeting them and is constitutionally invalid." It continued, "The courts have the duty of enforcing the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law and of ensuring protection against discriminatory law."

  Chief Justice Andrew Li also said in the ruling that the law targets homosexuals and "does not criminalize heterosexuals for the same or comparable conduct."

  Director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Law Yuk-kai, stated that the ruling was a "key blow" to restrictions on homosexual activity and an "important milestone" for homosexual activists. He commented, "In future, even though the law remains, the police would find it difficult to apply with the latest ruling." He also claimed that the government would be too afraid of a religious and moral outcry to amend the law.

  Up until 2006, Hong Kong law required that homosexual sex take place in a private place only between partners who were both over the age of 21. The age for heterosexual consent or lesbian activity was 16. These regulations were struck down last year by Hong Kong’s High Court. 

  Read the original court ruling:

  Read related coverage:

  Hong-Kong Court Rejects Appeal for Homosexual Age-of-Consent Restriction   

  Hong Kong Judge Declares Anti-Sodomy Laws Unconstitutional

  Hong Kong Has One of Highest Abortion Rates in Developed World - 1/3 of all Pregnancies

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