Hong Kong ruling against sodomy laws gets mixed response
August 25 2005 11:00 PM ET
activist on Thursday criticized a Hong Kong judge's ruling
against sodomy laws, but the decision received mixed
responses in newspaper editorials—with some
applauding the increasing tolerance in Hong Kong society.
The front pages of several papers featured
Wednesday's high court judgment against gay sex
laws—including one that calls for a life
sentence for sodomy when one or both men are younger than
21. The judge said the laws were discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Choi Chi-sum, a leading Christian activist, said
he feared that gay groups would use the decision to
abuse their claims to equality. "This ruling wouldn't
help gay groups with their cause because it sends a
clear warning signal to the public of a domino effect," Choi
said. "This isn't just about sodomy. We're talking about the
collapse of sexual differences, and soon they'd be
demanding marriage and adoption of children."
The sodomy laws deemed discriminatory prohibited
"gross indecency" or sexual intimacy between men if
one or both are under 21. But heterosexual and lesbian
couples who are 16 or older can legally have such relations.
The Ming Pao Daily offered the most
scathing condemnation of Wednesday's ruling, saying
the court should not decide for the public when it has
no backing of public opinion. The Chinese-language
editorial read: "The court appears not to have
thoroughly considered the public's moral judgments, even as
it stressed the protection of minority groups'
rights." It added, "Should this line of logic be
developed, we would quickly proceed to the stage when
the court makes same-sex marriage legal."
The editorial urged the government to appeal the
decision to the court of final appeal, but officials
have yet to say what they plan to do.
SingTao Daily warned that protection offered to
victims of inequality could potentially become a weapon
wielded by a "minority dictatorship." The mass-market
paper nevertheless applauded the increasing tolerance
of Hong Kong society, noting that gay bashing has no
place in the city. "More homosexuals are 'coming out
of the closet'—the most well-known of whom is
celebrity Leslie Cheung, who had not lost his star
power even after his love life was revealed," the
paper said. Cheung was one of Hong Kong's most popular
actors and pop singers before committing suicide in 2003.
Apple Daily took a more liberal stance, saying
the ruling removed discriminatory laws to protect important
rights of individuals. The ruling was "worth
supporting and affirming," the mass-market paper said.
People with "different sexual orientations aren't
perverted or wrong. They are not committing any
crimes," the paper said. (AP)